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O Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have 
seldom heard him mention her under any other name. 
In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole 
of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion 
akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and 
that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise, but 
admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect 
reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen ; but, as 
a lover, he would have placed himself in a false position. He 
never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. 
They were admirable things for the observer — excellent for drawing 
the veil from men's motives and actions. But for the trained 
reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely 
adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which 
might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensi- 
tive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, 
would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature 
such as his. And yet there was but one woman to him, and that 
woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable 

I had seen little of Holmes lately. My marriage had drifted us 
away from each other. My own complete happiness, and the 
home-centred interests which rise up around the man who first 
finds himself master of his own establishmient, were sufficient to 
absorb all my attention ; while Holmes, who loathed every form of 
society with his whole Bohemian soul, remained in our lodgings in 

2 » 


Baker-street, buried among his old books, and alternating fi*om 
week to week between cocaine and ambition, the drowsiness of the 
drug, and the fierce energy of his own keen nature. He was still, 
as ever, deeply attracted by the study of crime, and occupied his 
immense faculties and extraordinary powers of observation in 
following out those clues, and clearing up those mysteries, which 
had been abandoned as hopeless by the official police. From time 
to time I heard some vague account of his doings : of his summons 
to Odessa in the case of the Trepoff murder, of his clearing up 
of the singular tragedy of the Atkinson brothers at Trincomalee, 
and finally of the mission which he had accomplished so delicately 
and successfully for the reigning family of Holland. Beyond these 
signs of his activity, however, which I merely shared with all the 
readers of the daily press, I knew little of my former friend and 

One night — it was on the 20th of March, 1888 — I was returning 
from a journey to a patient (for I had now returned to civil prac- 
tice), when my way led me through Baker-street. As I passed the 
well-remembered door, which must always be associated in my 
mind with my wooing, and with the dark incidents of the Study in 
Scarlet, I was seized with a keen desire to see Holmes again, and 
to know how he was employing his extraordinary powers. His 
rooms were brilliantly lit, and, even as I looked up, I saw his tall 
spare figure pass twice in a dark silhouette against the blind. He 
was pacing the room swiftly, eagerly, with his head sunk upon his 
chest, and his hands clasped behind him. To me, who knew his 
every mood and habit, his attitude and manner told their own story. 
He was at work again. He had risen out of his drug-created 
dreams, and was hot upon the scent of some new problem. I rang 
the bell, and was shown up to the chamber which had formerly 
been in part my own. 

His manner was rot effusive. It seldom was; but he was glad, I 
think, to see me. With hardly a word spoken, but with a kindly 
eye, he waved me to an armchair, threw across his case of cigars, 
and indicated a spirit case and a gasogene in the corner. Then he 
stood before the fire, and looked me over in his singular introspec- 
tive fashion. 

*' Wedlock suits 5'ou," he remarked. " I think, Watson, that 
.you have put on seven and a half pounds since I saw you." 


" Seven," I answered. 

" Indeed, I should have thought a little more. Just a trifle 
more, I fancy, Watson. And in practice again, I observe. You 
did not tell me that you intended to go into harness." 

"Then, how do you 
Know ? 

** I see it, I deduce it. 
How do I know that you ^ ^ V 

have been getting yourself 
very wet lately, and that 

^^^^^^_^^_ ■ "'^K^^ 

and careless servant girl ? " 


"My dear Holmes," said I, "this is too much. You would 
certainly have been burned had you lived a few centuries ago. 
It is true that I had a country walk on Thursday and came home 
in a dreadful mess ; but, as I have changed my clothes, I can't 
imagine how you deduce it. As to Mary Jane, she is incorrigible, 


and my wife has given her notice ; but there again I fail to see 
how you work it out." 

He chuckled to himself and rubbed his long nervous hands 

" It is simplicity itself," said he ; " my eyes tell me that on the 
inside of your left shoe, just where the firelight strikes it, the 
leather is scored by six almost parallel cuts. Obviously they have 
been caused by someone who has very carelessly scraped round the 
edges of the sole in order to remove crusted mud from it. Hence, 
you see, my double deduction that you had been out in vile weather, 
and that you had a particularly malignant boot-slitting specimen 
of the London slavey. As to your practice, if a gentleman walks 
into my rooms smelling of idioform, with a black mark of nitrate of 
silver upon his right fore-finger, and a bulge on the side of his top- 
hat to show where he has secreted his stethoscope, I must be dull 
indeed if I do not pronounce him to be an active member of the 
medical profession." 

I could not help laughing at the ease with which he explained 
his process of deduction. " When I hear you give your reasons," 
I remarked, " the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously 
simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive 
instance of your reasoning I am bafifled, until you explain your 
process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as 

" Quite so," he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing 
himself down into an armchair. *' You see, but you do not ob- 
serve. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently 
seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room." 

*' Frequently." 

** How often ? " 

*' Well, some hundreds of times." 

** Then how many are there ? " 

" How many ! I don't know." 

** Quite so ! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. 
That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen 
steps, because I have both seen and observed. By the way, since 
you are interested in these little problems, and since you are good 
enough to chronicle one or two of my trifling experiences, you may 
be interested in this." He threw over a sheet of thick pink-tinted 


notepaper which had been lying open upon the table. " It came by 
the last post," said he. " Read it aloud." 

The note was undated, and without either signature or 

"There will call upon you to-night, at a quarter to eight o'clock," 
it said, " a gentleman who desires to consult you upon a matter of 
the very deepest moment. Your recent services to one of the 
Royal Houses of Europe have shown that you are one who may 
safely be trusted with matters which are of an importance which 
can hardly be exaggerated. This 
account of you we have from all 
quarters re- 
ceived. Be 
in your cham 
ber then at 
that hour, and 
do not take it 
amiss if your 
visitor wear a 

" This is 
indeed a 
mystery," I 
"What do you 
imagine that 
it means ? " 

" I have 
no data yet. It is a capital mistake to 
theorise before one has data. Insensibly 
one begins to twist facts to suit theories, 

instead of theories to suit facts. But the note itself. What do 
you deduce from it ? " 

I carefully examined the writing, and the paper upon which it 
was written. 

** The man who wrote it was presumably well to do," I 
remarked, endeavouring to imitate my companion's processes. 
** Such paper could not be bought under half-a-crown a packet. 
It is peculiarly strong and stiff." 


" Peculiar— that is the very word," said Holmes. ** It is not an 
English paper at all. Hold it up to the light." 

I did so, and saw a large E with a small g, a P, and a large G 
with a small t woven into the texture of the paper. 

" What do you make of that ? " asked Holmes. 

*' The name of the maker, no doubt ; or his monogram, rather." 

'' Not at all. The G with the small t stands for ' Gesellschaft,' 
which is the German for ' Company.' It is a customary contrac- 
tion like our * Co.' P, of course, stands for ' Papier.' Now for 
the Eg. Let us glance at our Continental Gazetteer." He took 
down a heavy brown volume from his shelves. " Eglow, Eglonitz 
— here we are, Egria. It is in a German-speaking country — in 
Bohemia, not far from Carlsbad. * Remarkable as being the scene 
of the death of Wallenstein, and for its numerous glass factories 
and paper mills.' Ha, ha, my boy, what do you make of that ? " 
His eyes sparkled, and he sent up a great blue triumphant cloud 
from his cigarette. 

*'The paper was made in Bohemia," I said. 

" Precisely. And the man who wrote the note is a German. 
Do you note the peculiar construction of the sentence — ' This 
account of you we have from all quarters received.' A French- 
man or Russian could not have written that.' It is the German 
who is so uncourteous to his verbs. It only remains, therefore, to 
discover what is wanted by this German who writes upon Bohe- 
mian paper, and prefers wearing a mask to showing his face. And 
here he comes, if I am not mistaken, to resolve all our doubts." 

As he spoke there was the sharp sound of horses' hoofs and 
grating wheels against the curb, followed by a sharp pull at the 
bell. Holmes whistled. 

"A pair, by the sound," said he. " Yes " he continued, glancing 
out of the window. "A nice little brougham and a pair of beauties. 
A hundred and fifty guineas apiece. There's money in this case, 
Watson, if there is nothing else." 

** I think that I had better go. Holmes." 

** Not a bit. Doctor. Stay where you are. I am lost without 
my Boswell. And this promises to be interesting. It would be a 
pity to miss it." 

** But your client '* 

** Never mind him. I may want your help, and so may he. 



Here he comes. Sit down in that armchair, Doctor, and give us 
your best attention." 

A slow and heavy step, which had been heard upon the stairs 
and in the passage, paused immediately outside the door. Then 
there was a loud and 

authoritative tap. 

*'Come in!" 



A man entered 


could hardly have 


less than six feet 


inches in height, 


the chest and limbs of 
a Hercules. His dress 
was rich with a richness 
which would, in Eng- 
land, be looked upon as 
akin to bad taste. Heavy 
bands of Astrakhan were 
slashed across the sleeves 
and fronts of his double- 
breasted coat, while the 
deep blue cloak which 
was thrown over his 
shoulders was lined with 
flame - coloured silk, and 
secured at the neck with 
a brooch which consisted 
of a single flaming beryl. 
Boots which extended 
half way up his calves, 
and which v/ere trimmed 
at the tops with rich 
brown fur, completed the 

impression of barbaric opulence which was suggested by his whole 
appearance. He carried a broad-brimmed hat in his hand, while 
he wore across the upper part of his face, extending down past 
the cheek-bones, a black vizard mask, which he had apparently 
adjusted that very moment, for his hand was still raised to it as he 

"a man entered.' 


entered. From the lower part of the face he appeared to be a 
man of strong character, with a thick, hanging hp, and a long 
straight chin, suggestive of resolution pushed to the length of 

" You had my note ? " he asked, with a deep harsh voice and a 
strongly marked German accent. " I told you that I would call." 
He looked from one to the other of us, as if uncertain which to 

** Pray take a seat,'* said Holmes. ** This is my friend and 
colleague, Dr. Watson, who is occasionally good enough to help me 
in my cases. Whom have I the honour to address ? " 

** You may address me as the Count Von Kramm, a Bohemian 
nobleman. I understand that this gentleman, your friend, is a man 
of honour and discretion, whom I may trust with a matter of the 
most extreme importance. If not, I should much prefer to com- 
municate with you alone." 

I rose to go, but Holmes caught me by the wrist and pushed me 
back into my chair. ** It is both, or none," said he. "You may 
say before this gentleman anything which you may say to me." 

The Count shrugged his broad shoulders. " Then I must 
begin," said he, " by binding you both to absolute secrecy for 
two years, at the end of that time the matter will be of no 
importance. At present it is not too much to say that it is of 
such weight that it may have an influence upon European history." 

" I promise," said Holmes. 

'' And I." 

" You will excuse this mask," continued our strange visitor. 
*' The august person who employs me wishes his agent to be 
unknown to you, and I may confess at once that the title by 
which I have just called myself is not exactly my own." 

" I was aware of it," said Holmes dryly. 

** The circumstances are of great delicacy, and every precaution 
has to be taken to quench what might grow to be an immense 
scandal and seriously compromise one of the reigning families 
of Europe. To speak plainly, the matter implicates the great 
House of Ormstein, hereditary kings of Bohemia." 

** I was also aware of that," murmured Holmes, settling himself 
down in his armchair, and closing his eyes. 

Our visitor glanced with some apparent surprise at the languid. 


lounging figure of the man who had been no doubt depicted to 
him as the most incisive reasoner, and most energetic agent in 
Europe. Holmes slowly reopened his eyes, and looked impatiently 
at his gigantic client. 

" If your Majesty would condescend to state your case," he 
remarked, ** I should be better able to advise you." 

The man sprang from his chair, and paced up and down the 

room in uncontrollable agitation. Then, 
with a gesture of desperation, he tore the 
mask from his face and hurled it upon the 



ground. " You are right," he cried, ** I am the King. Why 
should I attempt to conceal it ? " 

** Why, indeed ? " murmured Holmes. " Your Majesty had not 
spoken before I was aware that I was addressing Wilhelm 
Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel- 
Felstein, and hereditary King of Bohemia." 

*' But you can understand," said our strange visitor, sitting 
down once more and passing his hand over his high, white 


forehead, "you can understand that I am not accustomed to 
doing such business in my own person. Yet the matter was so 
delicate that I could not confide it to an agent without putting 
myself in his power. I have come incognito from Prague for the 
purpose of consulting you." 

*' Then, pray consult," said Holmes, shutting his eyes once 

*' The facts are briefly these : Some five years ago, during 
a lengthy visit to Warsaw, I made the acquaintance of the well- 
known adventuress Irene Adler. The name is no doubt familiar to 

*' Kindly look her up in my index, Doctor," murmured Kolmes, 
without opening his eyes. For many years he had adopted a 
system of docketing all paragraphs concerning men and things, 
so that it was difficult to name a subject or a person on which 
he could not at once furnish information. In this case I found 
her biography sandwiched in between that of a Hebrew Rabbi and 
that of a staff-commander who had written a monograph upon the 
deep sea fishes. 

" Let me see," said Holmes. " Hum ! Born in New Jersey 
in the year 1858. Contralto — hum ! La Scala, hum ! Prima 
donna Imperial Opera of Warsaw — Yes! Retired from operatic 
stage — ha ! Living in London — quite so ! Your Majesty, as I 
understand, became entangled with this young person, wrote her 
some compromising letters, and is now desirous of getting those 
letters back." 

" Precisely so. But how " 

'* Was there a secret marriage ? " 


*' No legal papers or certificates ? " - 


" Then I fail to follow your Majesty. If this young person 
should produce her letters for blackmailing or other purposes, how 
is she to prove their authenticity? " 

" There is the writing." 

" Pooh, pooh ! Forgery." 

" My private notepaper." 

" Stolen." 

" My own seal." 


" Imitated." 
'* My photograph." 
" Bought." 

** We were both in the photograph." 

** Oh dear ! That is very bad ! Your Majesty has indeed 
committed an indiscretion." 
** I was mad — insane." 

** You have compromised yourself seriously." 
" I was only Crown Prince then. I was young. I am but 
thirty now." 

** It must be recovered." 
" We have tried and failed." 
"Your Majesty must pa}^ It must be bought." 
" She will not sell." 
" Stolen, then." 

" Five attempts have been made. Twice burglars in my pay 
ransacked her house. Once we diverted her luggage when she 
travelled. Twice she has been waylaid. There has been no 

" No sign of it ? " 
** Absolutely none." 

Holmes laughed. *' It is quite a pretty little problem," 
said he. 

*' But a very serious one to me," returned the King, reproach- 

" Very, indeed. And what does she propose to do with the 
photograph ? " 
'*To ruin me." 
"But how?" 

" I am about to be married." 
"So I have heard." 

" To Clotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meningen, second daughter 
of the King of Scandinavia. You may know the strict principles 
of her family. She is herself the very soul of delicacy. A shadow 
of a doubt as to my conduct would bring the matter to an end." 
" And Irene Adler ? " 

" Threatens to send them the photograph. And she will do 
it. I know that she will do it. You do not know her, but she 
has a soul of steel. She has the face of the most beautiful of 


women, and the mind of the most resolute of men. Rather than 
I should marry another woman, there are no lengths to which 
she would not go — none." 

" You are sure that she has not sent it yet ? ** 

" I am sure." 

" And why ? »' 

** Because she has said that she would send it on the day 
when the betrothal was publicly proclaimed. That will be next 

** Oh, then, we have three days yet," said Holmes, with a yawn. 
" That is very fortunate, as I have one or two matters of im- 
portance to look into just at present. Your Majesty will, of 
course, stay in London for the present ? " 

** Certainly. You will find me at the Langham, under the name 
of the Count Von Kramm." 

" Then I shall drop you a line to let you know how we 

" Pray do so. I shall be all anxiety." 

** Then, as to money ? " 

" You have carte hlanchey 

** Absolutely ? " 

*' I tell you that I v/ould give one of the provinces of my 
kingdom to have that photograph." 

*' And for present expenses ? " 

The king took a heavy chamois leather bag from under his 
cloak, and laid it on the table. 

** There are three hundred pounds in gold, and seven hundred 
in notes," he said. 

Holmes scribbled a receipt upon a sheet of his note-book, and 
handed it to him. 

*'And mademoiselle's address?" he asked. 

" Is Briony Lodge, Serpentine-avenue, St. John's Wood." 

Holmes took a note of it. '* One other question," said he. 
" Was the photograph a cabinet ? " 

" It was." 

*' Then, good-night, your Majesty, and I trust that we shall 
soon have some good news for you. And good-night, Watson," 
he added, as the wheels of the Royal brougham rolled down the 
street. *' If you will be good enough to call to-morrow afternoon, 



at three o'clock, I should like to chat this little matter over with 



At three o'clock precisely I was at Baker-street, but Holmes 
had not yet returned. The landlady informed me that he had left 
the house shortly after eight o'clock in the morning. I sat down 
beside the fire, however, with 
the intention of awaiting him, 
however long he might be. I 
was already deeply interested 
in his inquiry, for, though it 
was surrounded by none of the 
grim and strange features which 
were associated with the two 
crimes which I have elsewhere 
recorded, still, the nature of 
the case and the exalted 
station of his client gave it 
a character of its own. In- 
deed, apart from the nature 
of the investigation which my 
friend had on hand, there was 
something in his masterly 
grasp of a situation, and his 
keen, incisive reasoning, which 
made it a pleasure to me to 
study his system of work, and 
to follow the quick, subtle 
methods by which he disen- 
tangled the most inextricable 
mysteries. So accustomed 
was I to his invariable success 
that the very possibility of his failing had ceased to enter into my 

It was close upon four before the door opened, and a drunken- 
looking groom, ill-kempt and side-whiskered, with an inflamed 
face and disreputable clothes, walked into the room. Accustomed 
as I was to my friend's amazing powers in the use of disguises, 



I had to look three times before I was certain that it was indeed 
he. With a nod he vanished into the bedroom, whence he emerged 
in five minutes tweed-suited and respectable, as of old. Putting 
his hands into his pockets, he stretched out his legs in front of 
the fire, and laughed heartily for some minutes. 

"Well, really!" he cried, and then he choked; and laughed 
again until he was obliged to lie back, limp and helpless, in the chair. 

" What is it ? " 

" It's quite too funny. I am sure you could never guess how 
I employed my morning, or what I ended by doing." 

'' I can't imagine. I suppose that you have been watching 
the habits, and perhaps the house, of Miss Irene Adler." 

" Quite so, but the sequel was rather unusual. I will tell you, 
however. I left the house a little after eight o'clock this morning, 
in the character of a groom out of work. There is a wonderful 
sympathy and freemasonry among horsey men. Be one of them, 
and you will know all that there is to know. I soon found Briony 
Lodge. It is a hijou villa, with a garden at the back, but built 
out in front right up to the road, two stories. Chubb lock to 
the door. Large sitting-room on the right side, well furnished, 
with long windows almost to the floor, and those preposterous 
English window fasteners which a child could open. Behind 
there was nothing remarkable, save that the passage window 
could be reached from the top of the coach-house. I walked 
round it and examined it closely from every point of view, but 
without noting anything else of interest. 

" I then lounged down the street, and found, as I expected, 
that there was a mews in a lane which runs down by one wall 
of the garden. I lent the ostlers a hand in rubbing down their 
horses, and I received in exchange twopence, a glass of half-and- 
half, two fills of shag tobacco, and as much information as I 
could desire about Miss Adler, to say nothing of half a dozen 
other people in the neighbourhood in whom I was not in the 
least interested, but whose biographies I was compelled to 
listen to." 

" And what of Irene Adler? " I asked. 

'' Oh, she has turned all the men's heads down in that part. 
She is the daintiest thing under a bonnet on this planet. So say 
the Serpentine-mews, to a man. She lives quietly, sings at 


concerts, drives out at five every day, and returns at seven sharp 
for dinner. Seldom goes out at other times, except when she 
sings. Has only one male visitor, but a good deal of him. He 
is dark, handsome, and dashing; never calls less than once a 
day, and often twice. He is a Mr. Godfrey Norton, of the Inner 
Temple. See the advantages of a cabman as a confidant. They 
had driven him home a dozen times from Serpentine-mews, and 
knew all about him. When I had listened to all that they had 
to tell, I began to walk up and down near Briony Lodge once 
more, and to think over my plan of campaign. 

" This Godfrey Norton was evidently an important factor in 
the matter. He was a lawyer. That sounded ominous. What 
was the relation between them, and what the object of his 
repeated visits ? Was she his client, his friend, or his mistress ? 
If the former, she had probably transferred the photograph to 
his keeping. If the latter, it was less likely. On the issue of 
this question depended whether I should continue my work at 
Briony Lodge, or turn my attention to the gentleman^s chambers 
in the Temple. It was a delicate point, and it widened the field 
of my inquiry. I fear that I bore you with these details, but I 
have to let you see my little difficulties, if you are to understand 
the situation." 

" I am following you closely," I answered. 

** I was still balancing the matter in my mind, when a hansom 
cab drove up to Briony Lodge, and a gentleman sprang out. He 
was a remarkably handsome man, dark, aquiline, and moustached 
— evidently the man of whom I had heard. He appeared to be 
in a great hurry, shouted to the cabman to wait, and brushed 
past the maid who opened the door with the air of a man who 
was thoroughly at home. 

" He was in the house about half an hour, and I could catch 
glimpses of him, in the windows of the sitting-room, pacing up 
and down, talking excitedly and waving his arms. Of her I could 
see nothing. Presently he emerged, looking even more flurried 
than before. As he stepped up to the cab, he pulled a gold watch 
from his pocket and looked at it earnestly. ' Drive like the 
devil,' he shouted, ' first to Gross & Hankey's in Regent-street, 
and then to the church of St. Monica in the Edgware-road. 
Half a guinea if you do it in twenty minutes ! * " 


" Away they went, and I was just wondering whether I should 
not do well to follow them, when up the lane came a neat little 
landau^ the coachman with his coat only half buttoned, and his tie 
under his ear, while all the tags of his harness were sticking out of 
the buckles. It hadn't pulled up before she shot out of the hall 
door and into it. I only caught a glimpse of her at the moment, 
but she was a lovely woman, with a face that a man might 
die for. 

** ' The Church of St. Monica, John,' she cried, * and half a 
sovereign if you reach it in twenty minutes.' 

** This was quite too good to lose, Watson. I was just 
balancing whether I should run for it, or whether I should perch 
behind her landau, when a cab came through the street. The 
driver looked twice at such a shabby fare ; but I jumped in 
before he could object. 'The Church of St. Monica,' said I, 
* and half a sovereign if you reach it in twenty minutes.' It was 
twenty-five minutes to twelve, and of course it was clear enough 
what was in the wind. 

** My cabby drove fast. I don't think I ever drove faster, but 
the others were there before us. The cab and the landau with 
their steaming horses were in front of the door when I arrived. 
I paid the man, and hurried into the church. There was not a 
soul there save the two whom I had followed and a surpliced 
clergyman, who seemed to be expostulating with them. They 
were all three standing in a knot in front of the altar. I lounged 
up the side aisle like any other idler who has dropped into a 
church. Suddenly, to my surprise, the three at the altar faced 
round to me, and Godfrey Norton came running as hard as he 
could towards me." 

'' Thank God ! " he cried. ** You'll do. Come ! Come ! ** 

"What then?" I asked. 

** Come man, come, only three minutes, or it won't be legal." 

I was half dragged up to the altar, and before I knew where I 
was, I found myself mumbling responses which were whispered in 
my ear, and vouching for things of which I knew nothing, and 
generally assisting in the secure tying up of Irene Adler, spinster, 
to Godfrey Norton, bachelor. It was all done in an instant, and 
there was the gentleman thanking me on the one side and the lady 
on the other, while the clergyman beamed on me in front. It was 



the most preposterous position in which I ever found myself in my 
life, and it was the thought of it that started me laughing just now. 
It seems that there had been some informality about their licence, 
that the clergyman absolutely refused to marry them without a 
witness of some sort, and that my lucky appearance saved the 
bridegroom from having to sally out into the streets in search of a 
best man. The bride gave me a sovereign, and I mean to wear it 
on my watch chain in memory of the occasion." 

" This is a very unexpected turn 
of affairs," said I ; ** and what then ? ' 

"Well, I found 
my plans very seri- 
ously menaced. 
It looked as if the 
pair might take 
an immediate de- 
parture, and so 
necessitate very 
prompt and ener- 
getic measures on 
my part. At the 
church door, how- 
ever, they sepa- 
rated, he driving 
back to the 
Temple, and she 
to her own house. 
* I shall drive out 
in the Park at five 
as usual,' she said 
as she left him. 
I heard no more. 
They drove away in different directions, and I went off to make 
my own arrangements." 
" Which are .? " 

" Some cold beef and a glass of beer," he answered, ringing the 
bell. ** I have been too busy to think of food, and I am likely to be 
busier still this evening. By the way. Doctor, I shall want your 



"I shall be delighted." 

" You don't mind breaking the law ? " 

"Not in the least." 

" Nor running a chance of arrest ? " 

" Not in a good cause." 

** Oh, the cause is excellent ! ' 

** Then I am your man." 

*' I was sure that I might rely on you." 

'* But what is it you wish ? " 

"When Mrs. Turner has brought in the tray I will make it 
clear to you. Now," he said, as he turned hungrily on the simple 
fare that our landlady had provided, " I must discuss it while I eat, 
for I have not much time. It is nearly five now. In two hours we 
must be on the scene of action. Miss Irene, or Madame, rather, 
returns from her drive at seven. We must be at Briony Lodge to 
meet her." 

''And what then? " 

** You must leave that to me. I have already arranged what is 
to occur. There is only one point on which I must insist. You 
must not interfere, come what may. You understand ? " 

"I am to be neutral ? " 

** To do nothing whatever. There will probably be some small 
unpleasantness. Do not join in it. It will end in my being con- 
veyed into the house. Four or five minutes afterwards the sitting- 
room window will open. You are to station yourself close to that 
open window." 


'* You are to watch me, for I will be visible to you." 

" Yes." 

" And when I raise my hand — so — you will throw into the room 
what I give you to throw, and will, at the same time, raise the cry 
of fire. You quite follow me ? " 

*' Entirely." 

" It is nothing very formidable," he said, takii.g a long cigar- 
shaped roll from his pocket. ** It is an ordinary plumber's smoke 
rocket, fitted with a cap at either end to make it self-lighting. 
Your task is confined to that. When you raise your cry of fire, it 
will be taken up by quite a number of people. You may then walk 
to the end of the street, and I will rejoin you in ten minutes. I 
hope that I have made myself clear ? " 



J P. 

" I am to remain neutral, to get near the window, to watch you, 
and, at the signal, to throw in this object, then to raise the cry of 
fire, and to wait you at the corner of the street." 

** Precisely." 

" Then you may entirely rely on me." 

" That is excellent. I think perhaps it is almost time that I 
prepared for the new role I have to play." 

He disappeared into his bedroom, and returned in a few minutes 
in the character of an amiable and 
simple - minded Nonconformist 
clergyman. His broad black hat, 
his baggy trousers, his white tie, 
his sympathetic smile, and general 
look of peering and benevolent curi- 
osity were such as Mr. John Hare 
alone could have equalled. It was 
not merely that Holmes changed 
his costume. His expression, his 
manner, his very soul seemed to 
vary with every fresh part 
that he assumed. The stage 
lost a fine actor, even as 
science lost an acute reasoner, 
when he became a specialist 
in crime. 

It was a quarter past six 
when we left Baker-street, and 
it still wanted ten minutes to 
the hour when we found our- 
selves in Serpentine-avenue. 
It was already dusk, and the 
lamps were just being lighted as we paced up and down in front of 
Briony Lodge, waiting for the coming of its occupant. The house 
was just such as I had pictured it from Sherlock Holmes' succinct 
description, but the locality appeared to be less private than I ex- 
pected. On the contrary, for a small street in a quiet neighbourhood, 
it was remarkably animated. There was a group of shabbily- 
dressed men smoking and laughing in a corner, a scissors grinder 
with his wheel, two guardsmen who were flirting with a nurse-girl, 



and several well-dressed young men who were lounging up and down 
with cigars in their mouths. 

"You see," remarked Holmes, as we paced to and fro in front of 
the house, '* this marriage rather simplifies matters. The photo- 
graph becomes a double-edged weapon now. The chances are that 
she would be as averse to its being seen by Mr. Godfrey Norton, as 
our client is to its coming to the eyes of his Princess. Now the 
question is — Where are we to find the photograph ? " 

** Where, indeed ? " 

** It is most unlikely that she carries it about with her. It is 
cabinet size. Too large for easy concealment about a woman's 
dress. She knows that the King is capable of having her waylaid 
and searched. Two attempts of the sort have already been made. 
We may take it then that she does not carry it about with her." 

*' Where, then ? " 

" Her banker or her lawyer. There is that double possibility. 
But I am inclined to think neither. Women are naturally secretive, 
and they like to do their own secreting. Why should she hand it 
over to any one else ? She could trust her own guardianship, but 
she could not tell what indirect or political influence might be 
brought to bear upon a business man. Besides, remember that she 
had resolved to use it within a few days. It must be where she can 
lay her hands upon it. It must be in her own house." 

*' But it has twice been burgled." 

** Pshaw ! They did not know how to look." 

" But how will you look ? " 

'' I will not look." 

*' What then ? " 

** I will get her to show me." 

" But she will refuse." 

** She will not be able to. But I hear the rumble of wheels. It 
is her carriage. Now carry out my orders to the letter." 

As he spoke the gleam of the sidelights of a carriage came round 
the curve of the avenue. It was a smart little landau which rattled 
up to the door of Briony Lodge. As it pulled up one of the loafing 
men at the corner dashed forward to open the door in the hope of 
earning a copper, but was elbowed away by another loafer who had 
rushed up with the same intention. A fierce quarrel broke out, 
which was increased by the two guardsmen, who took sides with 



one of the loungers, and by the scissors grinder, who was equally 
hot upon the other side. A blow was struck, and in an instant the 
lady, who had stepped from her carriage, was the centre of a little 
knot of flushed and struggling men who struck savagely at each 
other with their fists and sticks. Holmes dashed into the crowd to 
protect the lady ; but, just as he reached her, he gave a cry and 


dropped to the ground, with the blood running freely down his face. 
At his fall the guardsmen took to their heels in one direction and 
the loungers in the other, while a number of better dressed people 
who had watched the scuffle without taking part in it, crowded in to 
help the lady and to attend to the injured man. Irene Adler, as I 
will still call her, had hurried up the steps ; but she stood at the top 


with her superb figure outlined against the lights of the hall, looking 
back into the street. 

** Is the poor gentleman much hurt ? " she asked. 

*' He is dead," cried several voices. 

" No, no, there's life in him," shouted another. *' But he'll be 
gone before you can get him to hospital." 

" He's a brave fellow," said a woman. *' They would have had 
the lady's purse and watch if it hadn't been for him. They were a 
gang, and a rough one too. Ah, he's breathing now." 

" He can't lie in the street. May we bring him in, marm ? " 

'' Surely. Bring him into the sitting-room. There is a com- 
fortable sofa. This way, please ! " 

Slowly and solemnly he was borne into Briony Lodge, and laid 
out in the principal room, while I still observed the proceedings 
from my post by the window. The lamps had been lit, but the 
blinds had not been drawn, so that I could see Holmes as he lay 
upon the couch. I do not know whether he was seized with com- 
punction at that moment for the part he was playing, but I know 
that I never felt more heartily ashamed of myself in my life than 
when I saw the beautiful creature against whom I was conspiring, 
or the grace and kindliness with which she waited upon the injured 
man. And yet it would be the blackest treachery to Holmes to 
draw back now from the part which he had entrusted to me. I 
hardened my heart and took the smoke-rocket from under my ulster. 
After all, I thought, we are not injuring her. We are but prevent- 
ing her from injuring another. 

Holmes had sat up upon the couch, and I saw him motion like 
a man who is in want of air. A maid rushed across and threw open 
the window. At the same instant I saw him raise his hand, and at 
the signai I tossed my rocket into the room with a cry of '' Fire." 
The word was no sooner out of my mouth than the whole crowd of 
spectators, well dressed and ill — gentlemen, ostlers, and servant 
maids — joined in a general shriek of " Fire." Thick clouds of 
smoke curled through the room, and out at the open window. I 
caught a glimpse of rushing figures, and a moment later the voice 
of Holmes from within, assuring them that it was a false alarm. 
Slipping through the shouting crowd I made my way to the corner 
of the street, and in ten minutes was rejoiced to find my friend's 
arm in mine, and to get away from the scene of the uproar. He 


walked swiftly and in silence for some few minutes, until we had 
turned down one of the quiet streets which lead towards the Ed"'- 

*' You did it very nicely, Doctor,'* he remarked. " Nothing 
could have been better. It is all right." 

** You have the photograph ! " 

** I know where it is." 

** And how did you find out ? '* 

" She showed me, as I told you that she would.'* 

'* I am still in the dark." 

** I do not wish to make a mystery," said he, laughing. " The 
matter was perfectly simple. You, of course, saw that every one 
in the street was an accomplice. They were all engaged for the 

" I guessed as much.'* 

" Then, when the row broke out, I had a little moist red paint 
in the palm of my hand. I rushed forward, fell down, clapped my 
hand to my face, and became a piteous spectacle. It is an old 
trick." - - 

" That also I could fathom." ^ 

** Then they carried me in. She was bound to have me in. 
What else could she do? And into her sitting-room, which was 
the very room which I suspected. It lay between that and her bed- 
room, and I was determined to see which. They laid me on a 
couch, I motioned for air, they were compelled to open the window, 
and you had your chance." 

" How did that help you ? " 

" It was all-important. When a woman thinks that her house 
is on fire, her instinct is at once to rush to the thing which she 
values most. It is a perfectly overpowering impulse, and I have 
more than once taken advantage of it. In the case of the Darling- 
ton Substitution Scandal it was of u^e to me, and also in the Arns- 
worth Castle business. A married woman grabs at her baby — an 
unmarried one reaches for her jewel box. Now it was clear to me 
that our lady of to-day had nothing in the house more precious to 
her than what we are in quest of. She would rush to secure it. 
The alarm of fire was admirably done. The smoke and shouting 
was enough to shake nerves of steel. She responded beautifully. 
The photograph is in a recess behind a sliding panel just above the 


right-bell pull. She was there in an instant, and I caught a glimpse 
of it as she half drew it out. When I cried out that it was a false 
alarm, she replaced it, glanced at the rocket, rushed from the room, 
and I have not seen her since. I rose, and, making my excuses, 
escaped from the house. I hesitated whether to attempt to secure 
the photograph at once ; but the coachman had come in, and, as he 
was watching me narrowly, it seemed safer to wait. A little over- 
precipitance may ruin all." 

*' And now ? " I asked. 

*'Ojr quest is practically finished. I shall call with the King 
to-morrow, and with you, if you care to come with us. We will be 
shown into the sitting-room to wait for the lady, but it is probable 
that when she comes she may find neither us nor the photograph. 
It might be a satisfaction to His Majesty to regain it with his own 

" And when will you call ? " 

** At eight in the morning. She will not be up, so that we shall 
have a clear field. Besides, we must be prompt, for this marriage 
may mean a complete change in her life and habits. I must wire to 
the King without delay." 

We had reached Baker-street, and had stopped at the door. He 
was searching his pockets for the key, when some one passing said : 

** Good-night, Mister Sherlock Holmes." 

There were several people on the pavement at the time, but the 
greeting appeared to come from a slim youth in an ulster who had 
hurried by. 

" I've heard that voice before," said Holmes, staring down the 
dimly lit street. " Now, I wonder who the deuce that could have 


I slept at Baker-street that night, and we were engaged upon 
our toast and coffee when the King of Bohemia rushed into the 

*' You have really got it ! " he cried, grasping Sherlock Holmes 
by either shoulder, and looking eagerly into his face. 

'* Not yet." 

** But you have hopes ? " . 

** I have hopes." 



"Then, come. I 
am all impatience to 
be gone." 

" We must have a 

" No, my brougham 
is waiting." 

''Then that will 
simplify matters." 
We descended, and 
started off once 
more for Briony 

*' Irene Adler is 
married," remarked 

"Married! When?" 
" Yesterday." 
" But to whom ? " 
** To an English 
lawyer named Nor- 

" But she could 
not love him ? '* 

" I am in hopes 
that she does." 
** And why in hopes ? " 

" Because it would spare your Majesty all fear of future 
annoyance. If the lady loves her husband, she does not love 
your Majesty. If she does not love your Majesty, there is no 
reason why she should interfere with your Majesty's plan." 

** It is true. And yet — ! Well! I wish she had been of my 
own station ! What a queen she would have made ! " He re- 
lapsed into a moody silence which was not broken until we drew 
up in Serpentine-avenue. 

The door of Briony Lodge was open, and an elderly woman 
stood upon the steps. She watched us with a sardonic eye as we 
stepped from the brougham. 

*' Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I believe ? " said she. 



" I am Mr. Holmes," answered my companion, looking at her 
with a questioning and rather startled gaze. 

*' Indeed ! My mistress told me that you were likely to call. 
She left this morning with her husband, by the 5.15 train from 
Charing-cross, for the Continent." 

** What I " Sherlock Holmes staggered back, white with 
chagrin and surprise. " Do you mean that she has left England ? " 

" Never to return." 

" And the papers ? " asked the King, hoarsely. ** All is lost." 

'* We shall see." He pushed past the servant, and rushed into 
the drawing-room, followed by the King and myself. The furniture 
was scattered about in every direction, with dismantled shelves, and 
open drawers, as if the lady had hurriedly ransacked them before 
her flight. Holmes rushed at the bell-pull, tore back a small 
sliding shutter, and, plunging in his hand, pulled out a photograph 
and a letter. The photograph was of Irene Adler herself in evening 
dress, the letter was superscribed to *' Sherlock Holmes, Esq. To 
be left till called for." My friend tore it open, and we all three read 
it together. It was dated at midnight of the preceding night, and 
ran in this way : — 

" My Dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes, — You really did it very 
well. You took me in completely. Until after the alarm of fire, 
I had not a suspicion. But then, when I found how I had betrayed 
myself, I began to think. I had been warned against you months 
ago. I had been told that, if the King employed an agent, it would 
certainly be you. And your address had been given me. Yet, with 
all this, you made me reveal what you wanted to know. Even 
after I became suspicious, I found it hard to think evil of such a 
dear, kind old clergyman. But, you know, I have been trained 
as an actress myself. Male costume is nothing new to me. I 
often take advantage of the freedom which it gives. I sent John, the 
coachman, to watch you, ran upstairs, got into my walking clothes, 
as I call them, and came down just as you departed. 

" Well, I followed you to your door, and so made sure that I was 
really an object of interest to the celebrated Mr. Sherlock Holmes. 
Then I, rather imprudently, wished you good-night, and started for 
the Temple to see my husband. 

** We both thought the best resource was flight, when pursued 
by so formidable an antagonist ; so you will find the nest empty 



when you call to-morrow. As to the photograph, your client may 
rest in peace. I love and am loved by a better man than he. The 
King may do what he will without hindrance from one whom he 
has cruelly wronged. I keep it only to safeguard myself, and to 
preserve a weapon which will always secure me from any steps 
which he might take in the future. I leave a photograph which he 
might care to possess ; and I remain, dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes, 
very truly yours, *' Irene Norton, nee Abler." 

" What a woman — oh, what a woman ! " cried the King of 
Bohemia, when we had all three read this epistle. *' Did I not 
tell you how quick and resolute she was ? Would she not have 
made an admirable queen? Is it not a pity she was not on my 
level ? " 

" From what I have seen "^~ 

of the lady, she seems, in- - Wr: 

deed, to be on a very differ- *' 

ent level to your Majesty," 
said Holmes, coldly. " I am 
sorry that I have 
not been able to 
bring your Ma- 
jesty's business 
to a more suc- 
cessful conclu- 

** On the con- 
trary, my dear 
sir," cried the 
King. "Nothing 
could be more 
successful. 1 
know that he: 
word is invio- 
late. The pho- 
tograph is now 
as safe as if it 
were in the fire." 

** I am glad to hear your Majesty say so." 

" I am immensely indebted to you. Pray tell me in what way I 



can reward you. This ring " He slipped an emerald snake 

ring from his finger, and held it out upon the palm of his hand. 

" Your Majesty has something which I should value even more 
highly," said Holmes. 

" You have but to name it." 

" This photograph ! " 

The King stared at him in amazement. 

" Irene's photograph ! " he cried. " Certainly, if you wish it." 

" I thank your Majesty. Then there is no more to be done in 
the matter. I have the honour to wish you a very good morning." 
He bowed, and, turning away without observing the hand which 
the King had stretched out to him, he set off in my company for his 

And that was how a great scandal threatened to affect the 
kingdom of Bohemia, and how the best plans of Mr. Sherlock 
Holmes were beaten by a woman's wit. He used to make merry 
over the cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do it of 
late. And when he speaks of Irene Adler, or when he refers to 
her photograph, it is always under the honourable title of the 



HAD called upon my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, one 
day in the autumn of last year, and found him in deep 
conversation with a very stout, florid-faced, elderly 
gentleman, with fiery red hair. With an apology for 
my intrusion, I was about to withdraw, when Holmes 
pulled me abruptly into the room, and closed the door behind me. 

" You could not possibly have come at a better time, my dear 
Watson," he said, cordially. 

" I was afraid that you were engaged." 

" So I am. Very much so." 

" Then I can wait in the next room." 

" Not at all. This gentleman, Mr. Wilson, has been my partner 
and helper in many of my most successful cases, and I have no doubt 
that he will be of the utmost use to me in yours also." 

The stout gentleman half rose from his chair, and gave a bob of 
greeting, with a quick little questioning glance from his small, fat- 
encircled eyes. 

*' Try the settee," said Holmes, relapsing into his armchair, and 
putting his finger-tips together, as was his custom when in judicial 
moods. " I know, my dear Watson, that you share my love of all 
that is bizarre and outside the conventions and humdrum routine of 
every-day life. You have shown your relish for it by the enthusiasm 
which has prompted you to chronicle, and, if you will excuse my 
saying so, somewhat to embellish so many of my own little 

" Your cases have indeed been of the greatest interest to me," 
I observed. 

" You will remember that I remarked the other day, just before 
we went into the very simple problem presented by Miss Mary 

Sutherland, that for strange effects and extraordinary combinations 




we must go to life itself, which is always far more daring than any 
effort of the imagination." 

** A proposition which I took the liberty of doubting.'* 
" You did, Doctor, but none the less you must come round to my 
view, for otherwise I shall keep piling fact upon fact on you, until 
your reason breaks down under them and acknowledges me to be 
right. Now, Mr. Jabez Wilson here has been good enough to call 
upon me this morning, and to begin a narrative which promises to 
be one of the most singular which I have listened to for some time. 


You have heard me remark that the strangest and most unique 
things are very often connected not with the larger but with the 
smaller crimes, and occasionally, indeed, where there is room for 
doubt whether any positive crime has been committed. As far as I 
have heard, it is impossible for me to say whether the present case 
is an instance of crime or not, but the course of events is certainly 
among the most singular that I have ever listened to. Perhaps, 
Mr. Wilson, you would have the great kindness to recommence your 


narrative. I ask you, not merely because my friend Dr. Watson 
has not heard the opening part, but also because the peculiar nature 
of the story makes me anxious to have every possible detail from 
your lips. As a rule, when I have heard some slight indication of 
the course of events I am able to guide myself by the thousands of 
other similar cases which occur to my memory. In the present 
instance I am forced to admit that the facts are, to the best of my 
belief, unique." 

The portly client puffed out his chest with an appearance of some 
little pride, and pulled a dirty and wrinkled newspaper from the 
inside pocket of his greatcoat. As he glanced down the advertise- 
ment column, with his head thrust forward, and the paper flattened 
out upon his knee, I took a good look at the man, and endeavoured 
after the fashion of my companion to read the indications which 
might be presented by his dress or appearance. 

I did not gain very much, however, by my inspection. Our 
visitor bore every mark of being an average commonplace British 
tradesman, obese, pompous, and slow. He wore rather baggy grey 
shepherd's check trousers, a not overclean black frockcoat, un- 
buttoned in the front, and a drab waistcoat with a heavy brassy 
Albert chain, and a square pierced bit of metal dangling down as an 
ornament. A frayed top hat and a faded brown overcoat with a 
wrinkled velvet collar lay upon a chair beside him. Altogether, 
look as I would, there was nothing remarkable about the man save 
his blazing red head, and the expression of extreme chagrin and 
discontent upon his features. 

Sherlock Holmes' quick eye took in my occupation, and he shook 
his head with a smile as he noticed my questioning glances. 
" Beyond the obvious facts that he has at some time done manual 
labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, that he has 
been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of 
writing lately, I can deduce nothing else." 

Mr. Jabez Wilson started up in his chair, with his forefinger 
upon the paper, but his eyes upon my companion. 

" How, in the name of good fortune, did you know all that, 
Mr. Holmes ? " he asked. ** How did you know, for example, that 
I did manual labour. It's as true as gospel, and I began as a ship's 

"Your hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is quite a size 


larger than your left. You have worked with it, and the muscles 
are more developed." 

" Well, the snuff, then, and the Freemasonry ? " 

" I won't insult your intelligence by telling you how I read that, 
especially as, rather against the strict rules of your order, you use 
an arc and compass breastpin." 

** Ah, of course, I forgot that. But the writing ? " 

" What else can be indicated by that right cuff so very shiney for 
five inches, and the left one with the smooth patch near the elbow 
where you rest it upon the desk." 

**Well, but China?" 

" The fish which you have tattooed immediately above your 
right wrist could only have been done in China. I have made a 
small study of tattoo marks, and have even contributed to the 
literature of the subject. That trick of staining the fishes' scales of 
a delicate pink is quite peculiar to China. When, in addition, I see 
a Chinese coin hanging from your watch-chain, the matter becomes 
even more simple." 

Mr. Jabez Wilson laughed heavily. ** Well, I never ! " said he. 
*' I thought at first you had done something clever, but I see that 
there was nothing in it after all." 

** I begin to think, Watson," said Holmes, ** that I make a 
mistake in explaining. * Omne ignotum pro magnifico,' you know, 
and my poor little reputation, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if 
I am so candid. Can you not find the advertisement, Mr. Wilson ? " 

** Yes, I have got it now," he answered, with his thick, red finger 
planted half-way down the column. " Here it is. This is what 
began it all. You just read it for yourself, sir." 

I took the paper from him and read as follows : — 

** To THE Red-Headed League. On account of the bequest 
of the late Ezekiah Hopkins, of Lebanon, Penn., U.S.A., there is 
now another vacancy open which entitles a member of the League to 
a salary of four pounds a week for purely nominal services. All 
red-headed men who are sound in body and mind, and above the age 
of twenty-one years, are eligible. Apply in person on Monday, at 
eleven o'clock, to Duncan Ross, at the offices of the League, 
7, Pope's-court, Fleet-street." 

** What on earth does this mean ? " I ejaculated, after I had 
twice read over the extraordinary announcement. 



Holmes chuckled, and wriggled in his chair, as was his habit 
when in high spirits. ''' It is a little off the beaten track, isn't it ? " 
said he. "And now, Mr. Wilson, off you go at scratch, and tell us 
all about yourself, your household, and the effect which this adver- 
tisement had upon your fortunes. You will first make a note, 
Doctor, of the paper and the date." 

" It is The Morning Chronicle, of April 27, 1890. Just two 
months ago." 

*' Very good. Now, Mr. Wilson ? 

"Well, it is just as I have been 
telling you, Mr. Sherlock 
Holmes," said Jabez Wil- 


son, mopping his forehead, " I have a small pawnbroker's business 
at Coburg-square, near the City. It's not a very large affair, and 
of late years it has not done more than just give me a living. I 
used to be able to keep two assistants, but now I only keep one ; 
and I would have a job to pay him, but that he is willing to come 
for half wages, so as to learn the business." 

"What is the name of this obliging youth?" asked Sherlock 



" His name is Vincent Spaulding, and he's not such a youth 
either. It's hard to say his age. I should not wish a smarter 
assistant, Mr. Holmes ; and I know very well that he could better 
himself, and earn twice what I am able to give him. But after all, 
if he is satisfied, why should I put ideas in his head ? " 

*' Why, indeed ? You seem most fortunate in having an employe 
who comes under the full market price. It is not a common ex- 
perience among employers in this age. I don't know that your 
assistant is not as remarkable as your advertisement." 

" Oh, he has his faults, too," said Mr. Wilson. ** Never was such 
a fellow for photography. Snapping away with a camera when he 
ought to be improving his mind, and then diving down into the 
cellar like a rabbit into its hole to develop his pictures. That is his 
main fault ; but on the whole, he's a good worker. There's no vice 
in him." 

*' He is still with you, I presume ? " 

"Yes, sir. He and a girl of fourteen, who does a bit of simple 
cooking, and keeps the place clean — that's all I have in the house, 
for I am a widower, and never had any family. We live very 
quietly, sir, the three of us ; and we keep a roof over our heads, and 
pay our debts, if we do nothing more. 

** The first thing that put us out was that advertisement. 
Spaulding, he came down into the office just this day eight weeks 
with this very paper in his hand, and he says : — 

" * I wish to the Lord, Mr. Wilson, that I was a red-headed 

** ' Why that ? ' I asks. 

" ' Why,' says he, ' here's another vacancy on the League of the 
Red-headed Men. It's worth quite a little fortune to any man who 
gets it, and I understand that there are more vacancies than there 
are men, so that the trustees are at their wits' end what to do with 
the money. If my hair would only change colour, here's a nice 
little crib all ready for me to step into.' 

'' * Why, what is it, then ? ' I asked. You see, Mr. Holmes, I 
am a very stay-at-home man, and, as my business came to me 
instead of my having to go to it, I was often weeks on end without 
putting my foot over the door-mat. In that way I didn't know 
much of what was going on outside, and I was always glad of a bit 
of news. 



" ' Have you never heard of the League of the Red-headed 
Men?' he asked, with his eyes open. 

" ' Never/ 

*' * Why, I wonder at that, for you are eligible yourself for one of 
the vacancies. 

" * And what are they worth ? ' I asked. 

" ' Oh, merely a couple of hundred a year, but the work is 
shght, and it need 
not interfere very 
much with one's 
other occu- 

"the league has a vacancy." 

" Well, you can easily think that that made me prick up my 
ears, for the business has not been over good for some years, and an 
extra couple of hundred would have been very handy. 

" *Tell me all about it,' said I. 

"'Well,' said he, showing me the advertisement, * you can see 
for yourself that the League has a vacancy, and there is the address 
where you should apply for particulars. As far as I can make out, 
the League was founded by an American millionaire, Ezekiah 
Hopkins, who was very peculiar in his ways. He was himself red- 
headed, and he had a great sympathy for all red-headed men ; so, 


when he died, it was found that he had left his enormous fortune in 
the hands of trustees, with instructions to apply the interest to the 
providing of easy herths to men whose hair is of that colour. From 
all I hear it is splendid pay, and very little to do.' 

" ' But,' said I, 'there would be millions of red-headed men who 
would apply.' 

*' ' Not so many as you might think,' he answered. * You see it 
is really confined to Londoners, and to grown men. This American 
had started from London when he w^as young, and he wanted to do 
the old town a good turn. Then, again, I have heard it is no use 
your applying if your hair is lightj'ed, or dark red, or anything but 
real, bright, blazing, fiery red. Now, if you cared to apply, Mr. 
Wilson, you would just walk in; but perhaps it would hardly be 
worth your while to put yourself out of the way for the sake of a few 
hundred pounds.' 

" Now, it is a fact, gentlemen, as you may see for yourselves, 
that my hair is of a very full and rich tint, so that it seemed to me 
that, if there was to be any competition in the matter, I stood as 
good a chance as any man that I had ever met. Vincent Spaulding 
seemed to know so much about it that I thought he might prove 
useful, so I just ordered him to put up the shutters for the day, and 
to come right away with me. He was very willing to have a holiday, 
so we shut the business up, and started off for the address that was 
given us in the advertisement. 

" I never hope to see such a sight as that again, Mr. Holmes. 
From north, south, east, and west every man who had a shade of 
red in his hair had tramped into the City to answer the advertise- 
ment. Fleet-street was choked with red-headed folk, and Pope's- 
court looked like a coster's orange barrow. I should not have 
thought there were so many in the whole country as were brought 
together by that single advertisement. Every shade of colour they 
were — straw, lemon, orange^ brick, Irish-setter, liver, clay ; but, as 
Spaulding said, there were not maany who had the real vivid flame- 
coloured tint. When I saw how maany were waiting, I would have 
given it up in despair; but Spaulding would not hear of it. How 
he did it I could not imagine, but he pushed and pulled and butted 
until he got me through the crowd, and right up to the steps which 
led to the office. There was a double stream upon the stair, some 
going up in hope, and some coming back dejected ; but we 



wedged in as well as we could, and soon found ourselves in the 

*' Your experience has been a most entertaining one," remarked 
Holmes, as his client paused and refreshed his memory with a huge 
pinch of snuff. " Pray continue your very interesting statement." 

" There was nothing in the office but a couple of wooden chairs 
and a deal table, behind which sat a small man, with a head 
that was even redder than mine. He said a few words to each 
candidate as he came up, and then he always managed to find some 
fault in them which 
would disqualify 
them. Getting a 
vacancy did not seem 
to be such a very 
easy matter after all. 
However, when our 
turn came, the little 
man was more favour- 
able to me than to 
any of the others, and 
he closed the door as 
we entered, so that 
he might have a 
private word with us. 

*"This is Mr. 
Jabez Wilson,' said 
my assistant, * and he 
is willing to fill a va- 
cancy in the League.' 

" ' And he is admirably suited for it,' the other answered. ' He 
has every requirement. I cannot recall when I have seen anything 
so fine.' He took a step backwards, cocked his head on one side, 
and gazed at my hair until I felt quite bashful. Then suddenly he 
plunged forward, wrung my hand, and congratulated me warmly on 
my success. 

" * It would be injustice to hesitate,' said he. ' You will, however, 
I am sure, excuse me for taking an obvious precaution.' With that 
he seized my hair in both his hands, and tugged until I yelled with 
the pain. * There is water in your eyes,' said he, as he released me. 



' I perceive that all is as it should be. But we have to be careful, 
for we have twice been deceived by wigs and once by paint. I could 
tell you tales of cobbler's wax which would disgust you with human 
nature.' He stepped over to the window, and shouted through it at 
the top of his voice that the vacancy was filled. A groan of dis- 
appointment came up from below, and the folk all trooped away in 
different directions, until there was not a red head to be seen except 
my own and that of the manager. 

"'My name,' said he, 'is Mr. Duncan Ross, and I am myself one 
of the pensioners upon the fund left by our noble benefactor. Are 
you a married man, Mr. Wilson ? Have you a family ? * 

" I answered that I had not. 

" His face fell immediately. 

" ' Dear me ! ' he said, gravel}^, ' that is very serious indeed ! I 
am sorry to hear you say that. The fund was, of course, for the 
propagation and spread of the red-heads as well as for their main- 
tenance. It is exceedingly unfortunate that you should be a 

*' My face lengthened at this, Mr. Holmes, for I thought that 
I was not to have the vacancy after all ; but, after thinking it over 
for a few minutes, he said that it would be all right. 

"'In the case of another,' said he, 'the objection might be 
fatal, but w^e must stretch a point in favour of a man with 
such a head of hair as yours. When shall you be able to enter 
upon your new duties ? ' 

*' ' Well, it is a little awkward, for I have a business already,' 

said I. 

" ' Oh, never mind about that, Mr. Wilson ! ' said Vincent 
Spaulding. ' I shall be able to look after that for you.' 

'* ' What would be the hours ? ' I asked. 

" ' Ten to two.' 

** Now a pawnbroker's business is mostly done of an evening, 
Mr. Holmes, especially Thursday and Friday evening, which is just 
before pay-day ; so it would suit me very well to earn a little 
in the mornings. Besides, I knew that my assistant was a good 
man, and that he would see to anything that turned up. 

" ' That would suit me very well,' said I. ' And the pay? * 

*' ' Is four pounds a week.' 

" 'And the work?' 


** * Is purely nominal.' 

" * What do you call purely nominal ? '* 

" * Well, you have to be in the office, or at least in the building, 
the whole time. If you leave, you forfeit your whole position for 
ever. The will is very clear upon that point. You don't comply 
with the conditions if you budge from the office during that time.' 

** * It's only four hours a day, and I should not think of leaving,' 
said I. 

" No excuse will avail,' said Mr. Duncan Ross, ' neither sickness, 
nor business, nor anything else. There you must stay, or you lose 
your billet.' 

'' 'And the work?' 

" * Is to copy out the " Encyclopaedia Britannica." There is the 
first volume of it in that press. You must find your own ink, pens, 
and blotting-paper, but we provide this table and chair. Will you 
be ready to-morrow ? ' 

" * Certainly,' I answered. 

" * Then, good-bye, Mr. Jabez Wilson, and let me congratulate 
you once more on the important position which you have been 
fortunate enough to gain.' He bowed me out of the room, and I 
went home with my assistant, hardly knowing what to say or do, 
I was so pleased at my own good fortune. 

** Well, I thought over the matter all day, and by evening I 
was in low spirits again ; for I had quite persuaded myself that the 
whole affair must be some great hoax or fraud, though what its 
object might be I could not imagine. It seemed altogether past 
belief that any one could make such a will, or that they would 
pay such a sum for doing anything so simple as copying out the 
' Encyclopaedia Britannica.' Vincent Spaulding did what he could 
to cheer me up, but by bedtime I had reasoned myself out of the 
whole thing. However, in the morning I determined to have a 
look at it anyhow, so I bought a penny bottle of ink, and with 
a quill pen, and seven sheets of foolscap paper, I started off for 

** Well, to my surprise and delight everything was as right as 
possible. The table was set out ready for me, and Mr. Duncan 
Ross was there to see that I got fairly to work. He started me off 
upon the letter A, and then he left me ; but he would drop in from 
time to time to see that all was right with me. At two o'clock he 




bade me good-day, complimented me upon the amount that I had 
written, and locked the door of the oftice after me. 

" This went on day after day, Mr. Holmes, and on Saturday the 
manager came in and planked down four golden sovereigns for my 
week's work. It was the same next week, and the same the week 
after. Every morning I was there at ten, and every afternoon I 

left at two. By de- 
grees Mr. Duncan 
Ross took to coming 
in only once of a 
morning, and then, 
after a time, he did 
not come in at all. 
Still, of course, I 
never dared to leave 
the room for an in- 
stant, for I was not 
sure when he might 
come, and the billet 
was such a good one, 
and suited me so 
well, that I would 
not risk the loss of it. 
** Eight weeks 
passed away like this, 
and I had written 
about Abbots, and 
Archery, and Armour, 
and Architecture, and 
Attica, and hoped 
with diligence that I 
might get on to the Bs before very long. It cost me something 
in foolscap, and I had pretty nearly filled a shelf with my writings. 
And then suddenly the whole business came to an end." 
''To an end?" 

"Yes^ sir. And no later than this morning. I went to my 
work as usual at ten o'clock, but the door was shut and locked, 
with a little square of cardboard hammered on to the middle of the 
panel with a tack. Here it is, and you can read for yourself." 



He held up a piece of white cardboard, about the si::e of a 
sheet of notepaper. It read in this fashion : — 

" The Red-Headed League is Dissolved. Oct. 9, i8go." 

Sherlock Holmes and I surveyed this curt announcement and 
the rueful face behind it, until the comical side of the affair so 
completely overtopped every other consideration that we both burst 
out into a roar of laughter. 

" I cannot see that there is anything very funny," cried our 
client, flushing up to the roots of his flaming head. " If you can 
do nothing better than laugh at me, I can go elsewhere." 

" No, no," cried Holmes, shoving him back into the chair from 
which he had half risen. " I really w^ouldn't miss your case for 
the world. It is most refreshingly unusual. But there is, if you 
will excuse my saying so, something just a little funny about it. 
Pray what steps did you take when you found the card upon the 

**' I was staggered, sir. I did not know what to do. Then I 
called at the offices round, but none of them seemed to know 
anything about it. Finally, I went to the landlord, who is an 
accountant living on the ground floor, and I asked him if he could 
tell me what had become of the Red-headed League. He said that 
he had never heard of any such body. Then I asked him who Mr. 
Duncan Ross was. He answered that the name was new to him." 

" ' Well,' said I, 'the gentleman at No. 4.' 

" ' What, the red-headed man ? ' 


" ' Oh,' said he, ' his name was William Morris. He was a 
solicitor, and was using my room as a temporary convenience 
until his new premises were ready. He moved out yesterday.' 

'* * Where could I find him ? ' 

" ' Oh, at his new offices. He did tell me the address. Yes, 
17, King Edward- street, near St. Paul's.' " 

"I started off, Mr. Holmes, but when I got to that address it 
was a manufactory of artificial knee-caps, and no one in it had ever 
heard of either Mr. William Morris, or Mr. Duncan Ross." 

" And what did you do then ? " asked Holmes. 

" I went home to Saxe-Coburg-square, and I took the advice 


of my assistant. But he could not help me in any way. He could 
only say that if I waited I should hear by post. But that was not 
quite good enough, Mr. Holmes. I did not wish to lose such a 
place without a struggle, so, as I had heard that you were good 
enough to give advice to poor folk who were in need of it, I came 
right away to you." 

" And you did very wisely," said Holmes. *' Your case is an 
exceedingly remarkable one, and I shall be happy to look into 
it. From what you have told me I think that it js possible that 
graver issues hang from it than might at first sight appear." 

" Grave enough ! " said Mr. Jabez Wilson. '* Why, I have lost 
four pound a week." 

" As far as you are personally concerned," remarked Holmes, " I 
do not see that you have any grievance against this extraordinary 
league. On the contrary, you are, as I understand, richer by some 
thirty pounds, to say nothing of the minute knowledge which you 
have gained on every subject which comes under the letter A. 
You have lost nothing by them." 

*' No, sir. But I want to find out about 'them, and who they are, 
and what their object was in playing this prank — if it was a prank 
— upon me. It was a pretty expensive joke for them, for it cost 
them two-and-thirty pounds." 

*' We shall endeavour to clear up these points for you. And, 
first, one or two questions, Mr. Wilson. This assistant of yours 
who first called your attention to the advertisement — how long had 
he been with you ? " 

''About a month then." 

" How did he come ? " 

" In answer to an advertisement." 

" Was he the only applicant." 

" No, I had a dozen." 

*' Why did you pick him ? " 

*' Because he was handy, and would come cheap.'* 

*' At half wages, in fact." 


** What is he like, this Vincent Spaulding ? " 

'* Small, stout-built, very quick in his ways, no hair on his face, 
though he's not short of thirty. Has a white splash of acid upon 
his forehead." 



Holmes sat up in his chair in considerable excitement. " I 
thought as much," said he. " Have you ever observed that his 
ears are pierced for earrings ? " 

" Yes, sir. He told me that a gipsy had done it for him when 
he was a lad." 

" Hum ! " said Holmes, sinking back in deep thought. " He is 
still with vou ? " 

" Oh, yes, sir; I have only just left him." 

" And has your business been attended to in your absence ? " 

" Nothing to complain of, sir. There's never very much to do of 

a mornmoj. 

'* That will do, Mr. Wil- 
son. I shall be happy to 
give you an opinion upon the 
subject in the course of a 
day or two. To-day is Satur- 
day, and I hope that by 
Monday we may come to a 

'' Well, Watson," said 
Holmes, when our visitor 
had left us, ''what do you 
make of it all ? " 

" I make nothing of it," 
I answered, frankly. " It is 
a most mysterious business." 

"As a rule," said Holmes, ''the more 
bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it 
■ proves to be. It is your commonplace, 
featureless crimes which are really puzzling, 
just as a commonplace face is the most 
difficult to identify. But I must be prompt 
over this matter." 
"HE CURLED HIMSELF UP IN "What arc you going to do then ?" I 

HIS CHAIR." ^3j^^^^ 

"To smoke," he answered. " It is quite a three pipe problem, 
and I beg that you won't speak to me for fifty minutes." He curled 
himself up in his chair, with his thin knees drawn up to his hawk- 
like nose, and there he sat with his eyes closed and his black clay 


pipe thrusting out like the bill of some strange bird. I had come to 
the conclusion that he had dropped asleep, and indeed was nodding 
myself, when he suddenly sprang out of his chair with the gesture 
of a man who has made up his mind, and put his pipe down upon 
the mantelpiece. 

" Sarasate plays at the St. James's Hall this afternoon," he 
remarked. "What do you think, Watson? Could your patients 
spare you for a few hours ? " 

" I have nothing to do to-day. My practice is never very 

*' Then, put on your hat, and come. I am going through the 
City first, and we can have some lunch on the way. I observe that 
there is a good deal of German music on the programme, which is 
rather more to my taste than Italian or French. It is introspective, 
and I want to introspect. Come along ! " 

We travelled by the Underground as far as Aldersgate ; and a 
short walk took us to Saxe-Coburg-square, the scene of the singular 
story which we had listened to in the morning. It was a pokey, 
little, shabby-genteel place, where four lines of dingy two-storied 
brick houses looked out into a small railed-in enclosure, where a 
lawn of weedy grass, and a few clumps of faded laurel bushes made 
a hard fight against a smoke-laden and uncongenial atmosphere. 
Three gilt balls and a brown board with '* Jabez Wilson " in 
white letters, upon a corner house, announced the place where 
our red-headed client carried on his business. Sherlock Holmes 
stopped in front of it with his head on one side and looked it all 
over, with his eyes shining brightly between puckered lids. Then 
he walked slowly up the street and then down again to the corner, 
still looking keenly at the houses. Finally he returned to the 
pawnbroker's, and, having thumped vigorously upon the pavement 
with his stick two or three times, he went up to the door and 
knocked. It was instantly opened by a bright-looking, clean- 
shaven young fellow, who asked him to step in. 

"Thank you," said Holmes, " I only wished to ask you how you 
would go from here to the Strand." 

" Third right, fourth left," answered the assistant promptly, 
closing the door. 

"Smart fellow, that," observed Holmes as we walked away. 
" He is, in my judgment, the fourth smartest man in London, and 



for daring I am not sure that he has not a claim to be third. 
I have known something of him before." 

"Evidently," said I, " Mr. Wilson's assistant counts for a good 
deal in this mystery of the Red-headed League. I am sure that 
you inquired your way merely in order that you might see him." 

"Not him." 

" What then ? " 

*' The knees of his trousers." 

" And what did 
you see ? " 

"What I ex- 
pected to see." 

'' W^hy did you 
beat the pave- 
ment ? " 

" My dear Doc- 
tor, this is a time 
for observation, not 
for talk. We are 
spies in an enemy's 
country. We know 
something of Saxe- 
Coburg-square. Let 
us now explore the 
parts which lie be- 
hind it." 

The road in 
which v/e found 
ourselves as we 
turned round the 
corner from the re- 
tired Saxe-Coburg- 
square presented as great a contrast to it as the front of a picture 
does to the back. It was one of the main arteries which convey the 
traffic of the City to the north and west. The roadway was blocked 
with the immense stream of commerce flowing in a double tide 
inwards and outwards, while the footpaths were black with the 
hurrying swarm of pedestrians. It was difficult to realise as we - 
looked at the line of fine shops and stately business premises that 




they really abutted on the other side upon the faded and stagnant 
square which we had just quitted. 

** Let me see," said Holmes, standing at the corner, and glancing 
along the line, " I should like just to remember the order of the 
houses here. It is a hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of 
London. There is Mortimer's, the tobacconist, the little newspaper 
shop, the Coburg branch of the City and 
Suburban Bank, the Vegetarian Restau- 
rant, and McFarlane's carriage-building 
depot. That carries us right on to the 
other block. And now% Doctor, 
we've done our work, so it's time 
we had some play. A sandwich, 
and a cup of coffee, and then off to 
violin-land, where all is 
sweetness, and delicacy, and 
harmony, and there are no 
red-headed clients to vex us 
w^ith their conundrums." 

My friend was an enthu- 
siastic musician, being him- 
self not only a very capable 
performer, but a composer 
of no ordinary merit. All 
the afternoon he sat in the 
stalls wrapped in the most 
perfect happiness, gently 
waving his long thin fingers 
in time to the music, while 
his gently smiling face and 
his languid dreamy eyes 
were as unlike those of Holmes the sleuth-hound, Holmes the 
relentless, keen-witted, ready-handed criminal agent, as it was pos- 
sible to conceive. In his singular character the dual nature alter- 
nately asserted itself, and his extreme exactness and astuteness 
represented, as I have often thought, the reaction against the 
poetic and contemplative mood which occasionally predominated 
in him. The swing of his nature took him from extreme languor 
to devouring energy; and, as I knew well, he was never so truly 



formidable as when, for days on end, he had been lounging in his 
armchair amid his improvisations and his black-letter editions. 
Then it was that the lust of the chase would suddenly come upon 
him, and that his brilliant reasoning power would rise to the 
level of intuition, until those who were unacquainted with his 
methods would look askance at him as on a man whose knowledge 
was not that of other mortals. When I saw him that afternoon so 
enwrapped in the music at St. James's Hall I felt that an evil time 
might be coming upon those whom he had set himself to hunt down. 

'* You want to go home, no doubt, Doctor," he remarked, as we 

** Yes, it would be as well." 

" And I have some business to do which will take some hours. 
This business at Coburg-square is serious." 

*' Why serious ? " 

** A considerable crime is in contemplation. I have every reason 
to believe that we shall be in time to stop it. But to-day being 
Saturday rather complicates matters. I shall want your help 

"At what time?" 

** Ten will be early enough." 

** I shall be at Baker-street at ten." 

■*'Very well. And, I say. Doctor! there may be some little 
danger, so kindly put your army revolver in your pocket." He 
waved his hand, turned on his heel, and disappeared in an instant 
among the crowd. 

I trust that I am not more dense than my neighbours, but I was 
always oppressed with a sense of my own stupidity in my dealings 
with Sherlock Holmes. Here I had heard what he had heard, 
I had seen what he had seen, and yet from his words it was evident 
that he saw clearly not only what had happened, but what was 
about to happen, while to me the whole business was still confused 
and grotesque. As I drove home to my house in Kensington 
I thought over it all, from the extraordinary story of the red-headed 
copier of the ** Encyclopaedia " down to the visit to Saxe-Coburg- 
square, and the ominous words with which he had parted from me. 
What was this nocturnal expedition, and why should I go armed? 
Where were we going, and what were we to do ? I had the hint 
from Holmes that this smooth-faced pawnbroker's assistant was 


a formidable man — a man who mi^:!;ht play a deep game. I tried to 
puzzle it out, but gave it up in despair, and set the matter aside 
until night should bring an explanation. 

It was a quarter past nine when I started from home and made 
my way across the Park, and so through Oxford-street to Baker- 
street. Two hansoms were standing at the door, and, as I entered 
the passage, I heard the sound of voices from above. On entering 
his room, I found Holmes in animated conversation with two men, 
one of whom I recognised as Peter Jones, the official police agent ; 
while the other was a long, thin, sad-faced man, with a very shiny 
hat and oppressively respectable frock-coat. 

" Ha! our party is complete," said Holmes, buttoning up his pea 
jacket, and taking his heavy hunting-crop from the rack. *' Watson, 
I think you know Mr. Jones, of Scotland-yard ? Let me introduce 
you to Mr. Merryweather, who is to be our companion in to-night's 

" We're hunting in couples again, Doctor, you see," said Jones, 
in his consequential way. " Our friend here is a wonderful man for 
starting a chase. All he wants is an old dog to help him to do the 
running down." 

'* I hope a wild goose may not prove to be the end of our chase," 
observed Mr. Merryweather, gloomily. 

'*You may place considerable confidence in Mr. Holmes, sir," 
said the police agent, loftily. *' He has his own little methods, 
which are, if he won't mind my saying so, just a little too theoretical 
and fantastic, but he has the makings of a detective in him. It is 
not too much to say that once or twice, as in that business of the 
Sholto murder and the Agra treasure, he has been more nearly 
correct than the official force." 

"Oh, if you say so, Mr. Jones, it is all right ! " said the stranger, 
with deference. '' Still, I confess that I miss my rubber. It is the 
first Saturday night for seven-and-twenty years that I have not had 
my rubber." 

*' I think you will find," said Sherlock Holmes, " that you will 
play for a higher stake to-night than you have ever done yet, and 
that the play will be more exciting. For you, Mr. Merryweather, 
the stake will be some thirt}^ thousand pounds ; and for you, Jones, 
it will be the man upon whom you wish to lay your hands." 

" John Clay, the murderer, thief, smasher, and forger. He's 


a 30ung man, Mr. Menyweather, but he is at the head of his pro- 
fession, and I would rather have my bracelets on him than on any 
criminal in London. He's a remarkable man, is young John Clay. 
His grandfather was a Royal Duke, and he himself has been to 
Eton and Oxford. His brain is as cunning as his fingers, and 
though we meet signs of him at every turn, we never know where 
to find the man himself. He'll crack a crib in Scotland one week, 
and be raising money to build an orphanage in Cornwall the next. 
I've been on his track for years, and have never set eyes on 
him yet." 

" I hope that I may have the pleasure of introducing you to- 
night. I've had one or two little turns also with Mr. John Clay, 
and I agree with you that he is at the head of his profession. It is 
past ten, however, and quite time that we started. If you two will 
take the first hansom, Watson and I will follow in the second." 

Sherlock Holmes was not very communicative during the long 
drive, and lay back in the cab humming the tunes which he had 
heard in the afternoon. We rattled through an endless labyrinth of 
gas-lit streets until we emerged into Farringdon-street. 

'* We are close there now," my friend remarked. "This fellow 
Menyweather is a bank director and personally interested in the 
matter. I thought it as well to have Jones with us also. He is not 
a bad fellow, though an absolute imbecile in his profession. He 
has one positive virtue. He is as brave as a bulldog, and as 
tenacious as a lobster if he gets his claws upon any one. Here 
we are, and they are waiting for us." 

We had reached the same crowded thoroughfare in which we 
had found ourselves in the morning. Our cabs were dismissed, and, 
following the guidance of Mr. Merryweather, we passed down a 
narrow passage, and through a side door, which he opened for us. 
Within there was a small corridor, which ended in a very massive 
iron gate. This also was opened, and led down a flight of winding 
stone steps, which terminated at another formidable gate. Mr. 
Merryweather stopped to light a lantern, and then conducted us 
down a dark, earth-smelling passage, and so, after opening a third 
door, into a huge vault or cellar, which was piled all round with 
crates and massive boxes. 

"You are not very vulnerable from above," Holmes remarked, 
^s he held up the lantern, and gazed about him. 




** Nor from below," said Mr. Merryweather, striking his stick 
upon the flags which Hned the floor. '' Why, dear me, it sounds 
quite hollow ! " he remarked, looking up in surprise. 

" I must really ask you to be a little more quiet," said Holmes, 
severely. ** You have already imperilled 
the whole success of our expedition. 
Might I beg that you would have the 
goodness to sit down upon one of those 
boxes, and not to interfere ? " ■■ 

The solemn Mr. 
Merryweather perched 
himself upon a crate, 
with a very injured 
expression upon his 
face, while Holmes fell 
upon his knees upon 
the floor, and, with the 
lantern and a magni- 
fying lens, began to 
examine minutely the 
cracks between the 
stones. A few seconds 
sufficed to satisfy him, 
for he sprang to his 
feet again, and put his 
glass in his pocket. 

" We have at least 
an hour before us," he 
remarked, '' for they 
can hardly take any 
steps until the good 
pawnbroker is safely 
in bed. Then they 
will not lose a minute, ««i,ir. merryweather sTorrED to light a lantern." 
for the sooner they do 

their work the longer time they will have for their escape. We are 
at present, Doctor— as no doubt you have divined— in the cellar of the 
City branch of one of the principal London banks. Mr. Merry- 
weather is the chairman of directors, ^nd he will explain to you 


that there are reasons why the more daring criminals of London 
should take a considerable interest in this cellar at present." 

" It is our French gold," whispered the director. '' We have 
had several warnings that an attempt might be made upon it." 

" Your French gold ? " 

*' Yes. We had occasion some months ago to strengthen our 
resources, and borrowed, for that purpose, thirty thousand napoleons 
from the Bank of France. It has become known that we have never 
had occasion to unpack the money, and that it is still lying in 
our cellar. The crate upon which I sit contains two thousand 
napoleons packed between layers of lead foil. Our reserve of 
bullion is much larger at present than is usually kept in a single 
branch office, and the directors have had misgivings upon the 

"Which were very well justified," observed Holmes. ''And 
now it is time that we arranged our little plans. I expect that 
within an hour matters will come to a head. In the meantime, 
Mr. Merryweather, we must put the screen over that dark lantern." 

'* And sit in the dark ? " 

*' I am afraid so. I had brought a pack of cards in my pocket, 
and I thought that, as we were 2. partie carree, you might have your 
rubber after all. But I see that the enemy's preparations have 
gone so far that we cannot risk the presence of a light. And, first 
of all, we must choose our positions. These are daring men, and, 
though we shall take them at a disadvantage they may do us some 
harm, unless we are careful. I shall stand behind this crate, and 
do you conceal yourselves behind those. Then, when I flash a light 
upon them, close in swiftly. If they fire, Watson, have no com- 
punction about shooting them down." 

I placed my revolver, cocked, upon the top of the wooden case 
behind which I crouched. Holmes shot the slide across the front 
of his lantern, and left us in pitch darkness — such an absolute 
darkness as I have never before experienced. The smell of hot 
metal remained to assure us that the light was still there, ready to 
flash out at a moment's notice. To me, with my nerves worked up 
to a pitch of expectancy, there was something depressing and 
subduing in the sudden gloom, and in the cold, dank air of the 

" They have but one retreat," whispered Holmes. " That is 


back through the house into Saxe-Coburg-square. I hope that you 
have done what I asked 3^ou, Jones ? " 

" I have an inspector and two officers waiting at the front door." 

" Then we have stopped all the holes. And now we must I e 
silent and wait." 

What a time it seemed! From comparing notes afterwards it 
was but an hour and a quarter, yet it appeared to me that the night 
must have almost gone, and the dawn be breaking above us. My 
limbs were weary and stiff, for I feared to change my position, yet 
my nerves were worked up to the highest pitch of tension, and my 
hearing was so acute that I could not only hear the gentle breathing 
of my companions, but I could distinguish the deeper, heavier in- 
breath of the bulky Jones from the thin sighing note of the bank 
director. From my position I could look over the case in the 
direction of the floor. Suddenly my eyes caught the glint of 
a light. 

At first it was but a lurid spark upon the stone pavement. Then 
it lengthened out until it became a yellow line, and then, without 
any warning or sound, a gash seemed to open and a hand appeared, 
a white, almost womanly hand, which felt about in the centre of the 
little area of light. For a minute or more the hand, with its 
writhing fingers, protruded out of the floor. Then it was withdrawn 
as suddenly as it appeared, and all was dark again save the single 
lurid spark, which marked a chink between the stones. 

Its disappearance, however, was but momentary. With a rend- 
ing, tearing sound, one of the broad, white stones turned over upon 
its side, and left a square, gaping hole, through which streamed the 
light of a lantern. Over the edge there peeped a clean-cut, boyish 
face, which looked keenly about it, and then, with a hand on either 
side of the aperture, drew itself shoulder high and waist high, until 
one knee rested upon the edge. In another instant he stood at the 
side of the hole, and was hauling after him a companion, lithe 
and small like himself, with a pale face and a shock of very red 

*' It's all clear," he whispered. '' Have you the chisel and the 
bags. Great Scott! Jump, Archie, jump, and I'll swing for it!" 

Sherlock Holmes had sprung out and seized the intruder by the 
collar. The other dived down the hole, and I heard the sound of 
rending cloth as Jones clutched at his skirts. The light flashed 



upon the barrel of a revolver, but Holmes' hunting crop came down 
on the man's wrist, and the pistol clinked upon the stone floor. 

"It's no use, John Clay," said Holmes blandly; " you have no 
chance at all." 

'* So I see," the other answered, with the utmost coolness. 
** I fancy that my pal is all right, though I see you have got hisi 

'it's no use, JOHN CLAY." 

** There are three men waiting for him at the door," said Holmes. 

** Oh, indeed. You seem to have done the thing very com- 
pletely. I must compliment you." 

" And I you," Holmes answered. " Your red-headed idea was 
very new and effective." 

** You'll see your pal again presently," said Jones. '* He's 


quicker at climbing down holes than I am. Just hold out while 
I fix the derbies." 

" I beg that you will not touch me with your filthy hands," 
remarked our prisoner, as the handcuffs clattered upon his wrists. 
"You may not be aware that I have royal blood in my veins. Have 
the goodness also when you address me always to say * sir ' and 

** All right," said Jones, with a stare and a snigger. ''Well, 
would you please, sir, march upstairs, where we can get a cab to 
carry your highness to the police-station." 

" That is better," said John Clay, serenely. He made a 
sweeping bow to the three of us, and walked quietly off in the 
custody of the detective. 

" Really, Mr. Holmes," said I\Ir. Merryweather, as we followed 
them from the cellar, " I do not know how the bank can thank you 
or repay you. There is no doubt that you have detected and 
defeated in the most complete manner one of the most determined 
attempts at bank robbery that have ever come within my 

*' I have had one or two little scores of my own to settle with 
Mr. John Clay," said Holmes, 'i I have been at some small expense 
over this matter, which I shall expect the bank to refund, but 
beyond that I am amply repaid by having had an experience 
which is in many ways unique, and by hearing the very remarkable 
narrative of the Red-headed League." 

" You see, Watson," he explained, in the early hours of the 
morning, as we sat over a glass of whisky and soda in Baker-street, 
" it was perfectly obvious from the first that the only possible object 
of this rather fantastic business of the advertisement of the League, 
and the copying of the ' Encyclopaedia,' must be to get this not 
over-bright pawnbroker out of the way for a number of hours every 
day. It was a curious way of managing it, but really it would be 
difficult to suggest a better. The method was no doubt^suggeSted 
to Clay's ingenious mind by the colour of his accomplice's hair. 
The four pounds a week was a lure which must draw him, and 
what was it to them, who were playing for thousands ? They put 
in the advertisement; one rogue has the temporary office, the other 
rogue incites the man to apply for it, and togethe** they manage to 

The red-headed league:. 55 

secure his absence every morning in the week. From the time that 
I heard of the assistant having come for half wages, it was obvious 
to me that he had some strong motive for securing the situation." 

** But how could you guess what the motive was ? " 

" Had there been women in the house, I should have suspected 
a mere vulgar intrigue. That, however, was out of the question. 
The man's business was a small one, and there was nothing in his 
house which could account for such elaborate preparations, and such 
an expenditure as they were at. It must then be something out of 
the house. What could it be? I thought of the assistant's fondness 
for photography, and his trick of vanishing into the cellar. The 
cellar ! There was the end of this tangled clue. Then I made 
inquiries as to this mysterious assistant, and found that I had to 
deal with one of the coolest and most daring criminals in London. 
He was doing something in the cellar — something which took many 
hours a day for months on end. What could it be, once more? I 
could think of nothing save that he was running a tunnel to some 
other building. 

" So far I had got when we went to visit the scene of action. I 
surprised you by beating upon the pavement with my stick. I was 
ascertaining whether the cellar stretched out in front or behind. It 
was not in front. Then I rang the bell, and, as I hoped, the as- 
sistant answered it. We have had some skirmishes, but we had 
never set eyes on each other before. I hardly looked at his face. 
His knees were what I wished to see. You must yourself have 
remarked how worn, wrinkled, and stained they were. They spoke 
of those hours of burrowing. The only remaining point was what 
they were burrowing for. I walked round the corner, saw that the 
City and Suburban Bank abutted on our friend's premises, and felt 
that I had solved my problem. When you drove home after the 
concert I called upon Scotland-yard, and upon the chairman of the 
bank directors, with the result that you have seen." 

"And how could you tell that they would make their attempt 
to-night ? " I asked. 

" Well, when they closed their League offices that was a sign that 
they cared no longer about Mr. Jabez Wilson's presence ; in other 
words, that they had completed their tunnel. But it was essential 
that they should use it soon, as it might be discovered, or the bullion 
might be removed. Saturday would suit them better than any other 

5(5 Adventures oe Sherlock holmes. 

day, as it would give them two days for their escape. For all these 
reasons I expected them to come to-night." 

*' You reasoned it out beautifully," I exclaimed, in unfeigned 
admiration. " It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings 

" It saved me from ennui," he answered, yawning. *' Alas ! I 
already feel it closing in upon me. My life is spent in one long 
effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little 
problems help me to do so." 

** And you are a benefactor of the race," said I. 

He shrugged his shoulders. *' Well, perhaps, after all, it is of 
sorne little use," he remarked. " ' L'homme c'est rien — I'oeuvre 
c'est tout,' as Gustave Flaubert WM'ote to Georges Sand." 




Y dear fellow," said Sherlock Holmes, as we sat on 
either side of the fire in his lodgings at Baker-street, 
** life is infinitely stranger than anything which the 
mind of man could invent. We would not dare to con- 
ceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of 
existence. If we could fly out of that v/indow hand in hand, hover 
over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the 
queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the 
plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, 
Vv'orking through generations, and leading to the most outre results, 
it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen 
conclusions most stale and unprofitahle." 

" And yet I am not convinced of it," I answered. ** The cases 
which come to light in the papers are, as a rule, hald enough, and 
vulgar enough. We have in our police reports realism pushed to 
its extreme limits, and yet the result is, it must he confessed, 
neither fascinating nor artistic." 

"A certain selection and discretion must be used in producing 
a realistic effect," remarked Holmes. " This is v»^anting in the 
police report, where more stress is laid perhaps upon the platitudes 
of the magistrate than upon the details, which to an observer con- 
tain the vital essence of the whole matter. Depend upon it there 
is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace." 

I smiled and shook my head. ** I can quite understand you 
thinking so," I said. " Of course, in your position of unofficial 
adviser and helper to everybody who is absolutely puzzled, through- 
out three continents, you are brought in contact with all that is 
strange and bizarre. But here " — I picked up the morning paper 
f.'om the ground — *' let us put it to a practical test. Here is the 
first heading upon which I come. *A husband's cruelty to his 



wife.' There is half a column of print, but I know without reading 
it that it is all perfectly familiar to me. There is, of course, the 
other woman, the drink, the push, the blow, the bruise, the sympa- 
thetic sister or landlady. The crudest of writers could invent nothing 
more crude." 

" Indeed, your example is an unfortunate one for your argu- 
ment," said Holmes, taking the paper, and glancing his eye down 
it. "This is the Dundas separation case, and, as it happens, I was 
engaged in clearing up some small points in connection with it. 
The husband was a teetotaler, there was no other woman, and the 
conduct complained of was that he had drifted into the habit of 
winding up every meal by taking out his false teeth and hurling 
them at his wife, which you wdll allow is not an action likely to 
occur to the imagination of the average story-teller. Take a pinch 
of snuff. Doctor, and acknowledge that I have scored over you in 
your example." 

He held out his snuff-box of old gold, with a great amethyst in 
the centre of the lid. Its splendour was in such contrast to his 
homely ways and simple life that I could not help commenting 
upon it. 

"Ah," said he, "I forgot that I had not seen you for some 
weeks. It is a little souvenir from the King of Bohemia in return 
for my assistance in the case of the Irene Adler papers." 

"And the ring?" I asked, glancing at a remarkable brilHant 
which sparkled upon his finger. 

" It was from the reigning family of Holland, though the matter 
in which I served them was of such delicacy that I cannot confide 
it even to you, who have been good enough to chronicle one or two 
of my little problems." 

" And have you any on hand just now? " I asked with interest. 

" Sorne ten or twelve, but none which presents any feature of 
interest. They are important, you understand, without being in- 
teresting. Indeed, I have found that it is usually in unimportant 
matters that there is a field for the observation, and for the quick 
analysis of cause and effect which gives the charm to an investi- 
gation. The larger crimes are apt to be the simpler, for the bigger 
the crime, the more obvious, as a rule, is the motive. In these 
cases, save for one rather intricate matter which has been referred 
to me from Marseilles, there is nothing which presents any features 


of interest. It is possible, however, that I may have something 
better before very many minutes are over, for this is one of my 
clients, or I am much mistaken." 

He had risen from his chair, and was standing between the 
parted blinds, gazing down into the dull, neutral-tinted London 
street. Looking over his shoulder I saw that on the pavement 
opposite there stood a large woman with a heavy fur boa round 
her neck, and a large curling red feather in a broad-brimmed hat 
which was tilted in a coquettish Duchess-of-Devonshire fashion 
over her ear. From under this great panoply she peeped up in a 
nervous, hesitating fashion at our windows, while her body oscillated 
backwards and forwards, and her fingers fidgeted with her glove 
buttons. Suddenly, with a plunge, as of the swimmer who leaves 
the bank, she hurried across the road, and we heard the sharp clang 
of the bell. 

" I have seen those symptoms before," said Holmes, throwing 
his cigarette into the fire. " Oscillation upon the pavement always 
means an affaire de cceur. She would like advice, but is not sure 
that the matter is not too delicate for communication. And yet 
even here we may discriminate. When a woman has been seriously 
wronged by a man she no longer oscillates, and the usual symptom 
is a broken bell wire. Here we may take it that there is a love 
/natter, but that the maiden is not so much angry as perplexed, or 
grieved. But here she comes in person to resolve our doubts." 

As he spoke there was a tap at the door, and the boy in buttons 
entered to announce Miss Mary Sutherland, while the lady herself 
loomed behind his small black figure like a full-sailed merchantman 
behind a tiny pilot boat. Sherlock Holmes welcomed her with the 
easy courtesy for which he was remarkable, and having closed the 
door, and bowed her into an armchair, he looked her over in the 
minute, and yet abstracted fashion which was peculiar to him. 

"Do you not find," he said, "that with your short sight it is a 
little trying to do so much typewriting ? '' 

" I did at first," she answered, " but now I know where the 
letters are without looking." Then, suddenly realising the full 
purport of his words, she gave a violent start, and looked up with 
fear and astonishment upon her broad, good-humoured face. 
"You've heard about me, Mr. Holmes," she cried, "else how 
could you know all that?" 



** Never mind," said Holmes, laughing, " it is my business to 
know things. Perhaps I have trained myself to see what others 
overlook. If not, why should you come to consult me ? " 

'' I came to you, sir, because I heard of you from Mrs. Etherege, 
whose husband you found so easy when the police and everyone had 
given him up for dead. Oh, Mr. Holmes, I wish you would do as 


much for me. I'm not rich, but still I have a hundred a year in my 
own right, besides the little that I make by the machine, and 1 
would give it all to know what has become of Mr. Hosmer Angel." 
" Why did you come away to consult me in such a hurry?" 
asked Sherlock Holmes, with his finger-tips together, and his eyes 
to the ceiling. 


Again a startled look came over the somewhat vacuous face of 
Miss Mary Sutherland. " Yes, I did bang out of the house," she 
said, "for it made me angry to see the easy way in \vhich Mr. 
Windibank— that is, my father— took it all. He would not go to 
the police, and he would not go to you, and so at last, as he would 
do nothing, and kept on saying that there was no harm done, it 
made me mad, and I just on with my things and came right away 
to 3^ou." 

"Your father,'' said Holmes, "your step-father, surely, since the 
name is different." 

" Yes, my step-father. I call him father, though it sounds 
funny, too, for he is only five years and two months older tlian 



" And your mother is alive ? " 

" Oh yes, mother is alive and well. I wasn't best pleased, Mr. 
Holmes, when she married again so soon after father's death, and a 
man who was nearly fifteen years younger than herself. Father 
was a plumber in the Tottenham Court-road, and he left a tidy 
business behind him, which mother carried on with Mr. Hardy, the 
foreman, but wdien Mr. Windibank came he made her sell the 
business, for he was very superior, being a traveller in wdnes. 
They got four thousand seven hundred for the goodwill and 
interest, which wasn't near as much as father could have got if 
he had been alive." 

I had expected to see Sherlock Holmes impatient under this 
rambling and inconsequential narrative, but, on the contrary, he 
had listened with the greatest concentration of attention. 

" Your own little income," he asked, " does it come out of the 
business? " 

" Oh no, sir. It is quite separate, and was left me by my Uncle 
Ned in Auckland. It is in Ne\v Zealand Stock, paying \\ per cent. 
Two thousand five hundred pounds was the amount, but I can only 
touch the interest." 

"You interest me extremely," said Holmes. "And since you 
draw so large a sum as a hundred a year, with what you earn into 
the bargain, you no doubt travel a little, and indulge yourself in 
every way. I believe that a single lady can get on very nicely upon 
an income of about sixty pounds." 

" I could do with much less than that, Mr. Holmes, but you 


understand that as long as I live at home I don't wish to be a 
burden to them, and so they have the use of the money just while 
I am staying with them. Of course that is only just for the time. 
Mr. Windibank draws my interest every quarter, and pays it over 
to mother, and I find that I can do pretty well with what I earn at 
typewriting. It brings me twopence a sheet, and I can often do 
from fifteen to twenty sheets in a day." 

'' You have made your position very clear to me," said Holmes. 
" This is my friend. Dr. Watson, before whom you can speak as 
freely as before myself. Kindly tell us now all about your con- 
nection with Mr. Hosmer Angel." 

A flush stole over Miss Sutherland's face, and she picked 
nervously at the fringe of her jacket. " I met him first at the 
gasfitters' ball," she said. " They used to send father tickets 
when he was alive, and then afterwards they remembered us, and 
sent them to mother. Mr. Windibank did not wish us to go. He 
never did wish us to go anywhere. He would get quite mad if I 
wanted so much as to join a Sunday-school treat. But this time 
I was set on going, and I would go, for what right had he to 
prevent ? He said the folk were not fit for us to know, when all 
father's friends were to be there. And he said that I had nothing 
fit to wear, when I had my purple plush that I had never so much 
as taken out of the drawer. At last when nothing else would do 
he went off to France upon the business of the firm, but we went, 
mother and I, with Mr. Hardy, who used to be our foreman, and 
it was there I met Mr. Hosmer Angel." 

*' I suppose," said Holmes, ''that when Mr. Windibank came 
back from France, he was very annoyed at your having gone to the 

*' Oh, well, he was very good about it. He laughed, I remember, 
and shrugged his shoulders, and said there was no use denying 
anything to a woman, for she would have her way." 

" I see. Then at the gasfitters' ball you met, as I understand, 
a gentleman called Mr. Hosmer Angel." 

'' Yes, sir. I met him that night, and he called next day to 
ask if we had got home all safe, and after that we met him — that 
is to say, Mr. Holmes, I met him twice for walks, but after that 
father came back again, and Mr. Hosmer Angel could not come 
to the house any more," 





" Well, you know, father didn't like anything of the sort. He 
wouldn't have any visitors if he could help it, and he used to say 
that a woman should be happy in her own family circle. But then, 
as I used to say to mother, a woman wants her ow^n circle to begin 
with, and I had not got mine yet." 

"But how about Mr. 
Hosmer Angel? Did he 
make no attempt to see 
you ? " 

'^ Well, father was going 
off to France again in a 
week, and Hosmer wrote 
and said that it v/ould be 
safer and better not to see 
each other until he had 
gone. We could write in 
the meantime, and he used 
to write every day. I took 
the letters in in the morn- 
ing, so there was no need 
for father to know." 

" Were you engaged to 
the gentleman at this tim.e ? " 
''Oh yes, Mr. Holmes. 
We were engage d after the 
first walk that we took. 
Hosmer — Mr. Angel — was 
a cashier in an office in 
Leadenhall-street — and — " 
" What office ? " 
" That's the worst of it, Mr. Holmes, I don't know." 
" Where did he live then ? " 
" He slept on the premises." 
" And 5^ou don't know his address ? " 
" No — except that it was Leadenhall-street." 
'* Where did you address your letters, then ? " 
" To the Leadenhall-street Post Office, to be left till called for. 
He said that if they were sent to the office he would be chaffed 



by all the other clerks about having letters from a lady, so I offered 
to typewrite them, like he did his, but he wouldn't have that, for 
he said that when I wrote them they seemed to come from me, but 
when they were typewritten he always felt that the machine had 
come between us. That will just show you how fond he was of 
me, Mr. Holmes, and the little things that he would think of." 

*' It was most suggestive," said Holmes. ** It has long been 
an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most 
important. Can you remember any other little things about Mr. 
Hosmer Angel ? " 

'' He was a very shy man, Mr. Holmes. He would rather walk 
with me in the evening than in the daylight, for he said that he 
hated to be conspicuous. Very retiring and gentlemanly he was. 
Even his voice was gentle. He'd had the quinsy and swollen 
glands when he was young, he told me, and it had left him with a 
weak throat, and a hesitating, whispering fashion of speech. He 
was always well-dressed, very neat and plain, but his eyes weie 
weak, just as mine are, and he wore tinted glasses against the 

'* Well, and what happened when Mr. Windibank, your step- 
father, returned to France ? " 

*' Mr. Hosmer Angel came to the house again, and proposed 
that we should marry before father came back. He was in 
dreadful earnest, and made me swear, with my hands on the 
Testament, that whatever happened I would always be true to 
him. Mother said he was quite right to make me swear, and 
that it was a sign of his passion. Mother was all in his favour 
from the first, and was even fonder of him than I was. Then, 
when they talked of marrying within the week, I began to ask 
about father ; but they both said never to mind about father, but 
just to tell him afterwards, and mother said she would make it all 
ri^ht with him. I didn't quite like that, Mr. Holmes. It seemed 
funny that I should ask his leave, as he was only a few years older 
than me ; but I didn't want to do anything on the sly, so I wrote 
to father at Bordeaux, where the Company has its French offices, 
but the letter came back to me on the very morning of the 

'* It missed him then ? " 

" Yes, sir, for he had started to England just before it arrived," 



" Ha ! that was unfortunate. Your wedding was arranged, 
then, for the Friday. Was it to be in church ? " 

" Yes, sir, but very quietly. It was to be at St. Saviour's, near 
King's-cross, and we were to have breakfast afterwards at the St. 
Pancras Hotel. Hosmer came for us in a hansom, but as there 
were two of us, he put us both into it, and stepped himself into a 
four-wheeler, which happened to be the only other cab in the street. 
We got to the church first, and when the four-wheeler drove up 
we waited for him to step out, but he never did, and when the 
cabman got dov,^n from the box and looked, there was no one there ! 


The cabman said he could not imagine what had become of him, 
for he had seen him get in with his own eyes. That was last 
Friday, Mr. Holmes, and I have never seen or heard anything since 
then to throw any light upon what became of him." 

*' It seems to me that you have been very shamefully treated," 
said Holmes. 

*' Oh no, sir ! He was too good and kind to leave me so. Why, 
all the morning he was saying to me that, whatever happened, I 
was to be true ; and that even if something quite unforeseen 



occurred to separate us, I was always to remember that I was 
pledged to him, and that he would claim his pledge sooner or later. 
It seemed strange talk for a wedding morning, but what has 
happened since gives a meaning to it." 

'' Most certainly it does. Your own opinion is, then, that some 
unforeseen catastrophe has occurred to him ? " 

" Yes, sir. I believe that he foresaw some danger, or else he 
would not have talked so. And then I think that what he foresaw 

" But you have no notion as to what it could have been ? " 

'' None." 

*' One more question. How did your mother take the matter ? " 

** She was angry, and said that I was never to speak of the 
matter again ? " . . 

*' And your father ? Did you tell him ? " ) 

*' Yes, and he seemed to think, with me, that something had 
happened, and that I should hear of Hosmer again. As he said, 
what interest could any one have in bringing me to the doors of 
the church, and then leaving me ? Now, if he had borrowed my 
money, or if he had married me and got my money settled on him, 
there might be some reason ; but Hosmer was very independent 
about money, and never would look at a shilling of mine. And 
yet what could have happened? And why could he not write? 
Oh, it drives me half mad to think of ! and I can't sleep a wink at 
night." She pulled a little handkerchief out of her muff, and began 
to sob heavily into it. 

*' I shall glance into the case for you," said Holmes, rising, 
*' and I have no doubt that we shall reach some definite result. 
Let the weight of the matter rest upon me now, and do not let 
your mind dwell upon it further. Above all, try to let Mr. Hosmer 
Angel vanish from your memory, as he has done from your life." 

*' Then you don't think I'll see him again ? " 

*' I fear not." 

*' Then what has happened to him ? " 

** You will leave that question in my hands. I should like an 
accurate description of him, and any letters of his which you can 

" I advertised for him in last Saturday's Chronicley" said she. 
*' Here is the slip, and here are four letters from him." 



*' Thank you. And your address ? '* 

"31, Lyon-place, Cambervvell.'* 

** Mr. Angel's address you never had, I understand. Where is 
your father's place of business ? " 

" He travels for Westhouse & Marbank, the great claret im- 
porters of Fenchurch-street." 

** Thank you. You 
have made your state- 
ment very clearly. You 
will leave the papers here, 
and remember the advice 
which I have given you. 
Let the whole incident be 
a sealed book, and do not 
allow it to affect your 

" You are very kind, 
Mr. Holmes, but I cannot 
do that. I shall be true 
to Hosmer. He shall 
find me ready when he 
comes back." 

For all the prepos- 
terous hat and the 
vacuous face, there was 
something noble in the 
simple faith of our visitor 
which compelled our re- 
spect. She laid her little 
bundle of papers upon 
the table, and went her 
way, with a promise to 
come again whenever she might be summoned. 

Sherlock Holmes sat silent for a few minutes with his finger 
tips still pressed together, his legs stretched out in front of him, 
and his gaze directed upwards to the ceiling. Then he took down 
from the rack the old and oily clay pipe, which was to him as a 
counsellor, and, having lit it, he leaned back in his chair, with the 
thick blue cloud-wreaths spinning up from him, and a look of infinite 
languor in his face. 



"Quite an interesting study, that maiden," he observed. "I 
found her more interesting than her Uttle problem, which, by the 
way, is rather a trite one. You will find parallel cases, if you 
consult my index, in Andover in '77, and there was something of 
the sort at the Hague last year. Old as is the idea, however, there 
were one or two details which were new to me. But the maiden 
herself was most instructive." 

" You appeared to read a good deal upon her which was quite 
invisible to me," I remarked. 

*' Not invisible, but unnoticed, Watson. You did not know 
where to look, and so you missed all that was important. I can 
never bring you to realise the importance of sleeves, the suggestive- 
ness of thumbnails, or the great issues that may hang from a 
bootlace. Now what did you gather from that woman's appear- 
ance ? Describe it." 

" Well, she had a slate-coloured, broad-brimmed ■ straw hat, 
with a feather of a brickish red. Her jacket was black, with black 
beads sewn upon it, and a fringe of little black jet ornaments. 
Her dress was brown, rather darker than coffee colour, with a little 
purple plush at the neck and sleeves. Her gloves were greyish, 
and were worn through at the right forefinger. Her boots I didn't 
observe. She had small round, hanging gold earrings, and a general 
air of being fairly well to do, in a vulgar, comfortable, easy-going 

Sherlock Holmes clapped his hands softly together and 

" 'Pon my word, Watson, you are coming along wonderfully. 
You have really done very well indeed. It is true that you have 
missed everything of importance, but you have hit upon the 
method, and you have a quick eye for colour. Never trust to 
general impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon details. 
My first glance is always at a woman's sleeve. In a man it is 
perhaps better first to take the knee of the trouser. As you 
observe, this woman had plush upon her sleeves, which is a most 
useful material for showing traces. The double line a little above 
the wrist, where the typewritist presses against the table, was 
beautifully defined. The sewing-machine, of the hand type, leaves 
a similar mark, but only on the left arm, and on the side of it 
farthest from the thumb, instead of being right across the broadest 


part, as this was. I then glanced at her face, and observing the 
dint of a pince-nez at either side of her nose, I ventured a 
remark upon short sight and typewriting, which seemed to 
surprise her." 

*' It surprised me." 

*' But, surely, it was very obvious. I was then much surprised 
and interested on glancing down to observe that, though the boots 
which she was wearing were not unlike each other, they were 
realiy odd ones, the one having a slightly decorated toe-cap, and 
the other a plain one. One was buttoned only in the two lower 
buttons out of five, and the other at the first, third, and fifth. 
Now, when you see that a young lady, otherwise neatly dressed, 
has come away from home with odd boots, half-buttoned, it is no 
great deduction to say that she came away in a hurry." 

" And what else? " I asked, keenly interested, as I always was, 
by my friend's incisive reasoning. 

** I noted, in passing, that she had written a note before leaving 
home, but after being fully dressed. You observed that her right 
glove was torn at the forefinger, but you did not apparently see 
that both glove and finger were stained with violet ink. She had 
written in a hurry, and dipped her pen too deep. It must have 
been this morning, or the mark would not remain clear upon the 
finger. All this is amusing, though rather elementary, but I must 
go back to business, Watson. Would you mind reading me the 
advertised description of Mr. Hosmer Angel ? " 

I held the little printed slip to the light. '' Missing," it said, 
" on the morning of the 14th, a gentleman named Hosmer Angel. 
About 5ft. 7in. in height ; strongly built, sallow complexion, black 
hair, a httle bald in the centre, bushy, black side whiskers and 
moustache ; tinted glasses, slight infirmity of speech. Was 
dressed, when last seen, in black frock coat faced with silk, black 
waistcoat, gold Albert chain, and grey Harris tweed trousers, with 
brown gaiters over elastic-sided boots. Known to have been em- 
ployed in an office in Leadenhall-street. Anybody bringing," &c., &c. 
*' That will do," said Holmes. " As to the letters," he con- 
tinued, glancing over them, " they are very commonplace. Abso- 
lutely no clue in them to Mr. Angel, save that he quotes Balzac 
once. There is one remarkable point, however, which will no 
doubt strike you." 


" They are typewritten," I remarked. 

" Not only that, but the signature is typewritten. Look at the 
neat little * Hosmer Angel ' at the bottom. There is a date, you 
see, but no superscription, except Leadenhall-street, which is rather 
vague. The point about the signature is very suggestive — in fact, 
we may call it conclusive." 

" Of what ? " 

** My dear fellow, is it possible you do not see how strongly it 
bears upon the case." 

** I cannot say that I do, unless it were that he wished to be able 
to deny his signature if an action for breach of promise were insti- 

*' No, that was not the point. However, I shall write two 
letters which should settle the matter. One is to a firm in the City, 
the other is to the young lady's stepfather, Mr. Windibank, asking 
him whether he could meet us here at six o'clock to-morrow evening. 
It is just as well that we should do business with the male relatives. 
And now, Doctor, we can do nothing until the answers to those 
letters come, so we may put our little problem upon the shelf for 
the interim." 

I had had so many reasons to believe in my friend's subtle powers 
of reasoning, and extraordinary energy in action, that I felt that he 
must have some solid grounds for the assured and easy demeanour 
with which he treated the singular mystery which he had been 
called upon to fathom. Once only had I known hirh to fail, in the 
case of the King of Bohemia and of the Irene Adler photograph, but 
when I looked back to the weird business of the Sign of Four, and 
the extraordinary circumstances connected with the Study in 
Scarlet, I felt that it would be a strange tangle indeed which he 
could not unravel. 

I left him then, still puffing at his black clay pipe, with the con- 
viction that when I came again on the next evening I would find 
that he held in his hands all the clues which would lead up to the 
identity of the disappearing bridegroom of Miss Mary Sutherland. 

A professional case of great gravity was engaging my own atten- 
tion at the time, and the whole of next day I was busy at the 
bedside of the sufferer. It was not until close upon six o'clock that 
I found myself free, and was able to spring into a hansom and drive 
to Baker-street, half afraid that I might be too late to assist at the 



denouement of the little mystery. I found Sherlock Holmes alone, 
however, half asleep, with his long, thin form curled up in the 
recesses of his armchair. A formidable array of bottles and test- 
tubes, with the pun- 
■^' gent cleanly smell of 

hydrochloric acid, 


told me that he had spent his day in the chemical work which was 
so dear to him. 

" Well, have you solved it ? " I asked as I entered. 

"Yes. It was the bisulphate of baryta." 

" No, no, the mystery ! " I cried. 

*' Oh, that ! I thought of the salt that I have been working 
upon. There was never any mystery in the matter, though, as I 
said yesterday, some of the details are of interest. The only draw- 
back is that there is no law, I fear, that can touch the scoundrel." 

" Who was he, then, and what was his object in deserting Miss 
Sutherland ? " 

The question was hardly out of my mouth, and Holmes had not 


yet opened his lips to reply, when we heard a heavy footfall in the 
passage, and a tap at the door, 

" This is the girl's stepfather, Mr. James Windibank," said 
Holmes.. " He has written to me to say that he would be here at 
six. Come in 1 " 

The man who entered was a sturdy middle-sized fellow, some 
thirty years of age, clean shaven, and sallow skinned, with a bland, 
insinuating manner, and a pair of wonderfully sharp and penetrating 
grey eyes. He shot a questioning glance at each of us, placed his 
shiny top hat upon the sideboard, and, with a slight bow, sidled 
down into the nearest chair. 

'' Good evening, Mr. James Windibank," said Holmes. " I think 
that this typewritten letter is from you. in which you made an 
appointment with me for six o'clock ! " 

*' Yes, sir. I am afraid that I am a little late, but I am not 
quite my own master, you know. I am sorry that Miss Sutherland 
has troubled you about this little matter, for I think it is far better 
not to wash linen of the sort in public. It was quite against my 
wishes that she came, but she is a very excitable, impulsive girl, as 
you may have noticed, and she is not easily controlled when she has 
made up her mind on a point. Of course, I did not mind you so 
much, as you are not connected with the official police, but it is not 
pleasant to have a family misfortune like this noised abroad. 
Besides it is a useless expense, for how could you possibly find this 
Hosmer Angel ? " 

" On the contrary," said Holmes, quietly ; ** I have every 
reason to believe that I will succeed in discovering Mr. Hosmer 


Mr. Windibank gave a violent start, and dropped his gloves. 
*' I am delighted to hear it," he said. 

'' It is a curious thing," remarked Holmes, "that a typewriter 
has really quite as much individuality as a man's handwriting. 
Unless they are quite new, no two of them write exactly alike. 
Some letters get more worn than others, and some wear only on 
one side. Now, you remark in this note of yours, Mr. Windibank, 
that in every case there is some little slurring over of the ' e,' and a 
slight defect in the tail of the ' r.' There are fourteen other charac- 
teristics, but those are the more obvious." 

*' We do all our correspondence with this machine at the office, 



and no doubt it is a little worn," our visitor answered, glancing 
keenly at Holmes with his bright little eyes. 

" And now I will show you what is really a very interesting 
study, Mr. Windibank," Holmes continued. " I think of writing 
another little monograph some of these days on the typewriter and 
its relation to crime. It is a subject to which I have devoted some 
little attention. I have here four letters which purport to come 
from the missing man. They are all typewritten. In each case, 
not only are the 'e's ' slurred and the ' r's ' tailless, but you will 
observe, if you care to use my magnifying lens, that the fourteen 
other characteristics to which I have alluded are there as well." 

Mr. Windibank sprang out of his chair, and picked up his hat. 
" I cannot waste time over this sort of fantastic talk, Mr. Holmes," 
he said. " If you can catch the man, catch him, and let me know 
when you have done it." 

*' Certainly," said Holmes, stepping over and turning the key in 
the door. " I let you know, then, that I have caught him ! " 

" What ! where ? " shouted Mr. Windibank, turning white to his 
lips, and glancing about him like a rat in a trap. 

*'0h, it won't do— really it won't," said Holmes, suavely. 
*' There is no possible getting out of it, Mr. Windibank. It is 
quite too transparent, and it was a very bad compliment when you 
said it was impossible for me to solve so simple a question. That's 
right ! Sit down, and let us talk it over." 

Our visitor collapsed into a chair, with a ghastly face, and a 
glitter of moisture on his brow. '' It— it's not actionable," he 

*' I am very much afraid that it is not. But between ourselves, 
Windibank, it was as cruel, and selfish, and heartless a trick in a 
petty way as ever came before me. Now, let me just run over the 
course of events, and you will contradict me, if I go wrong." 

The man sat huddled up in his chair, with his head sunk upon 
his breast, like one who is utterly crushed. Holmes stuck his feet 
up on the corner of the mantelpiece, and, leaning back with his 
hands in his pockets, began talking, rather to himself, as it seemed, 
than to us. 

*' The man married a woman very much older than himself for 
her money," said he, " and he enjoyed the use of the money of the 
daughter as long as she lived with them. It was a considerable 



sum for peo- 
ple in their 
position, and 
the loss of 
it would 
have made 
a serious 
Itwas worth 
an effort to 
preserve it. 
The daugh- 
ter was of a 
good, ami- 
able dispo- 
sition, but 
and warm- 
hearted in 
her ways, so 
that it was 
evident that 
with her fair 
personal ad- 

and her little income, she would not be allowed to remain single 
long. Now her marriage would mean, of course, the loss of 
a hundred a year, so what does her stepfather do to prevent 
it ? He takes the obvious course of keeping her at home, and 
forbidding her to. seek the company of people of her own age. 
But soon he found that that would not answer for ever. She 
became restive, insisted upon her rights, and finally announced her 
positive intention of going to a certain ball. What does her clever 
stepfather do then ? He conceives an idea more creditable to his 
head than to his heart. With the connivance and assistance of his 
wife he disguised himself, covered those keen eyes with tinted 
glasses, masked the face with a moustache and a pair of bushy 
whiskers, sunk that clear voice into an insinuating whisper, and, 
doubly secure on account of the girl's short sight, he appears as Mr. 



Hosmer Angel, and keeps off other lovers by making love him- 

'* It was only a joke at first," groaned our visitor. "We never 
thought that she would have been so carried away." 

*' Very likely not. However that may be, the young lady was 
very decidedly carried away, and having quite made up her mind 
that her stepfather was in France, the suspicion of treachery never 
for an instant entered her mind. She was flattered by the gentle- 
man's attentions, and the effect was increased by the loudly 
expressed admiration of her mother. Then Mr. Angel began to 
call, for it was obvious that the matter should be pushed as far as 
it would go, if a real effect were to be produced. There were 
meetings, and an engagement, which would finally secure the girl's 
affections from turning towards any one else. But the deception 
could not be kept up for ever. These pretended journeys to France 
were rather cumbrous. The thing to do was clearly to bring the 
business to an end in such a dramatic manner that it would leave a 
permanent impression upon the young lady's mind, and prevent her 
from looking upon any other suitor for some time to come. Hence 
those vows of fidelity exacted upon a Testament, and hence also the 
allusions to a possibility of something happening on the very morn- 
ing of the wedding. James Windibank wished Miss Sutherland to 
be so bound to Hosmer Angel, and so uncertain as to his fate, that 
for ten years to come, at any rate, she would not listen to another 
man. As far as the church door he brought her, and then, as he 
could go no further, he conveniently vanished away by the old trick 
of stepping in at one door of a four-wheeler, and out at the other. 
I think that that was the chain of events, Mr. Windibank ! " 

Our visitor had recovered something of his assurance while 
Holmes had been talking, and he rose from his chair now with a 
cold sneer upon his pale face. 

" It may be so, or it may not, Mr. Holmes," said he, " but if you 
are so very sharp you ought to be sharp enough to know that it is 
you who are breaking the law now, and not me. I have done 
nothing actionable from the first, but as long as you keep that door 
locked you lay yourself open to an action for assault and illegal 

" The law cannot, as you sa}^, touch you," said Holmes, unlock- 
ing and throwing open the door, "yet there never was a man who 



deserved punishment more. If the young lady has a brother or a 
friend, he ought to lay a whip across your shoulders. By Jove!" 
he continued, flushing up at the sight of the bitter sneer upon the 
man's face," it is not part of my duties to my client, but here's a 

hunting-crop handy, and I think I shall just treat myself to " 

He took two swift steps to the wiiip, but before he could grasp 
it there was a wild clatter of steps upon the stairs, the heavy 
hall door banged, and from the window we could see Mr. James 
Windibank running at the top of his speed down the road. 


"There's a cold-blooded scoundrel ! " said 

I Holmes, laughing, as he threw himself down 

^- -^ into his chair once more. " That fellow 

will rise from crime to crime until he does something very bad, and 

ends on a gallows. The case has, in some respects, been not 

entirely devoid of interest." 


" I cannot now entirely see all the steps of your reasoning," I 

" Well, of course it was obvious from the first that this Mr. 
Hosmer Angel must have some strong object for his curious conduct, 
and it was equally clear that the only man who really profited by 
the incident, as far as we could see, was the stepfather. Then the 
fact that the two men were never together, but that the one always 
appeared when the other was away, was suggestive. So were the 
tinted spectacles and the curious voice, which both hinted at a dis- 
guise, as did the bushy whiskers. My suspicions were all confirmed 
by his peculiar action in typewriting his signature, which of course 
inferred that his handwriting was so familiar to her that she would 
recognise even the smallest sample of it. You see all these isolated 
facts, together with many minor ones, all pointed in the same 

" And how did you verify them ? " 

" Having once spotted my man, it was easy to get corroboration. 
I knew the firm for which this man worked. Having taken the 
printed description, I eliminated everything from it which could be 
the result of a disguise — the whiskers, the glasses, the voice, and I 
sent it to the firm, with a request that they would inform me 
whether it answered the description of any of their travellers. 1 
had already noticed the peculiarities of the typewriter, and I wrote 
to the man himself at his business address, asking him if he would 
come here. As I expected, his reply was typewritten, and revealed 
the same trivial but characteristic defects. The same post brought 
me a letter from Westhouse and Marbank, of Fenchurch-street, to 
say that the description tallied in every respect with that of their 
employe, James Windibank. Voila tout ! " 

''And Miss Sutherland?" 

" If I tell her she will not believe me. You may remember the 
old Persian saying, ' There is danger for him who taketh the tiger 
cub, and danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman.' 
There is as much sense in Hafiz as in Horace, and as much know- 
ledge of the world." 



E were seated at breakfast one morning, my wife and I, 
when the maid brought in a telegram. It was from 
Sherlock Holmes, and ran in this way : 

*' Have you a couple of days to spare ? Have just 
been wired for from the West of England in connection 
with Boscombe Valley tragedy. Shall be glad if you will come with 
me. Air and scenery perfect. Leave Paddington by the 11.15." 

'* What do you say, dear? " said my wife, looking across at me. 
" Will you go ? " 

*' I really don't know what to say. I have a fairly long list 
at present." 

** Oh, Anstruther would do your work for you. You have been 
looking a little pale lately. I think that the change would do you 
good, and you are always so interested in Mr. Sherlock Holmes' 

'' I should be ungrateful if I were not, seeing what I gained 
through one of them," I answered. '' But if I am to go I must 
pack at once, for I have only half an hour." 

My experience of camp life in Afghanistan had at least had the 
effect of making me a prompt and ready traveller. My wants were 
few and simple, so that in less than the time stated I was in a 
cab with my valise, rattling away to Paddington Station. Sherlock 
Holmes was pacing up and down the platform, his tall, gaunt 
figure made even gaunter and taller by his long grey travelling 
cloak, and close-fitting cloth cap. 

" It is really very good of you to come, Watson," said he. " It 

makes a considerable difference to me, having some one with me 

on whom I can thoroughly rely. Local aid is always either 

worthless or else biassed. If you will keep the two corner seats 

I shall get the tickets." 




We had the carriage to ourselves save for an immense litter 
of papers which Holmes had brought with him. Among these he 



rummaged and read, with intervals of note-taking and of medita- 
tion, until we were past Reading. Then he suddenly rolled them 
all into a gigantic ball, and tossed them up on to the rack. 

" Have you heard anything of the case ? " he asked. 

*' Not a word. I have not seen a paper for some days." 

*' The London press has not had very full accounts. I have 
just been looking through all the recent papers in order to master 
the particulars. It seems, from what I gather, to be one of those 
simple cases which are so extremely difficult." 

** That sounds a little paradoxical." 

*' But it is profoundly true. Singularity is almost invariably a 
clue. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is, the more 


difficult is it to bring it home. In this case, however, they have 
established a very serious case against the son of the murdered 

"• It is a murder, then ? " 

"Well, it is conjectured to be so. I shall take nothing for 
granted until I have the opportunity of looking personally into it. 
I will explain the state of things to you, as far as I have been 
able to understand it, in a very few words. 

** Boscombe Valley is a country district not very far from Ross, 
in Herefordshire. The largest landed proprietor in that part is a 
Mr. John Turner, who made his money in Australia, and returned 
some years ago to the old country. One of the farms which he 
held, that of Hatherley, was let to Mr. Charles McCarthy, who 
was also an ex-Australian. The men had known each other in 
the Colonies, so that it was not unnatural that when they came 
to settle down they should do so as near each other as possible. 
Turner was apparently the richer man, so McCarthy became his 
tenant, but still remained, it seems, upon terms of perfect equality, 
as they were frequently together. McCarthy had one son, a lad 
of eighteen, and Turner had an only daughter of the same age, 
but neither of them had wives living. They appear to have avoided 
the society of the neighbouring English families, and to have led 
retired lives, though both the McCarthys were fond of sport, and 
were frequently seen at the race meetings of the neighbourhood. 
McCarthy kept two servants — a man and a girl. Turner had a 
considerable household, some half-dozen at the least. That is as 
much as I have been able to gather about the families. Now for 

the facts. 

*' On June 3, that is, on Monday last, McCarthy left his house 
at Hatherley about three in the afternoon, and walked down to 
the Boscombe Pool, which is a small lake formed by the spreading 
out of the stream which runs down the Boscombe Valley. He 
had been out with his serving-man in the morning at Ross, and 
he had told the man that he must hurry, as he had an appointment 
of importance to keep at three. From that appointment he never 
came back alive. 

*'From Hatherley Farmhouse to the Boscombe Pool is a quarter 
of a mile, and two people saw him as he passed over this ground. 
One was an old woman, whose name is not mentioned, and the 


other was William Crowder, a gamekeeper in the employ of Mr. 
Turner. Both these witnesses depose that Mr. McCarthy was 
walking alone. The gamekeeper adds that within a few minutes 
of his seeing Mr. McCarthy pass he had seen his son, Mr. James 
McCarthy, going the same way with a gun under his arm. To 
the best of his belief, the father was actually in sight at the time, 
and the son was following him. He thought no more of the matter 
until he heard in the evening of the tragedy that had occurred. 

'*The two McCarthys were seen after the time when William 
Crowder, the gamekeeper, lost sight of them. The Boscombe Pool 
is thickly wooded round, with just a fringe of grass and of reeds 
round the edge. A girl of fourteen, Patience Moran, who is the 
daughter of the lodge-keeper of the Boscombe Valley Estate, was 
in one of the woods picking flowers. She states that while she 
was there she saw, at the border of the wood and close by the 
lake, Mr. McCarthy and his son, and that they appeared to be 
having a violent quarrel. She heard Mr. McCarthy the elder using 
very strong language to his son, and she saw the latter raise up 
his hand as if to strike his father. She was so frightened by their 
violence that she ran away, and told her mother when she reached 
home that she had left the two McCarthys quarrelling near Bos- 
combe Pool, and that she was afraid that they were going to fight. 
She had hardly said the words when young Mr. McCarthy came 
running up to the lodge to say that he had found his father dead 
in the wood, and to ask for the help of the lodge-keeper. He was 
much excited, without either his gun or his hat, and his right 
hand and sleeve were observed to be stained with fresh blood. 
On following him they found the dead body of his father stretched 
out upon the grass beside the Pool. The head had been beaten 
in by repeated blows of some heavy and blunt weapon. The 
injuries were such as might very well have been inflicted by the 
butt-end of his son's gun, which was found lying on the grass 
within a few paces of the body. Under these circumstances the 
young man was instantly arrested, and a verdict of 'Wilful Murder ' 
having been returned at the inquest on Tuesday, he was on 
Wednesday brought before the magistrates at Ross, who have 
referred the case to the next assizes. Those are the main facts 
of the case as they came out before the coroner and at the police- 




'' I could hardly imagine a more damning case," I remarked. 
" If ever circumstantial evidence pointed to a criminal it does so 

" Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing," answered 

f^^ ...<•• Holmes, thoughtfully, 

*' It may seem to 
point very straight to 
one thing, but if you 
shift your own point 
of view a little, you 
may find it pointing 
in an equally uncom- 
promising manner to 
something entirely 
different. It must be 
confessed, however, 
that the case looks 
exceedingly grave 
against the young 
man, and it is very 
possible that he is 
indeed the culprit. 
There are several 
people in the neigh- 
bourhood, however, 
and among them Miss 
Turner, the daughter 
of the neighbouring 
landowner, who be- 
lieve in his innocence, 
and who have retained 
Lestrade, whom you 
may remember in 
connection with the 
Study in Scarlet, to work out the case in his interest. Les- 
trade, being rather puzzled, has referred the case to me, and 
hence it is that two middle-aged gentlemen are flying westward 
at fifty miles an hour, instead of quietly digesting their breakfasts 
at home." 



" I am afraid," said I, " that the facts are so obvious that you 
will find little credit to be gained out of this case." 

"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact," he 
answered, laughing. *' Besides, we may chance to hit upon some 
other obvious facts which may have been by no means obvious to 
Mr. Lestrade. You know me too well to think that I am boasting 
when I say that I shall either confirm or destroy his theory by 
means which he is quite incapable of employing, or even of under- 
standing. To take the first example to hand, I very clearly 
perceive that in your bedroom the window is upon the right-hand 
side, and yet I question whether Mr. Lestrade would have noted 
even so self-evident a thing as that." 

" How on earth ! " 

"My dear fellow, I know you well. I know the military neatness 
which characterises you. You shave every morning, and in this 
season you shave by the sunlight, but since your shaving is less 
and less complete as we get further back on the left side, until 
it becomes positively slovenly as we get round the angle of the 
jaw, it is surely very clear that that side is less well illuminated 
than the other. I could not imagine a man of your habits looking 
at himself in an equal light, and being satisfied with such a result. 
I only quote this as a trivial example of observation and inference. 
Therein lies my metier, and it is just possible that it may be of 
some service in the investigation which lies before us. There 
are one or two minor points which were brought out in the inquest, 
and which are worth considering." 
''What are they?" 

" It appears that his arrest did not take place at once, but 
after the return to Hatherley Farm. On the inspector of con- 
stabulary informing him that he was a prisoner, he remarked 
that he was not surprised to hear it, and that it was no more 
than his deserts. This observation of his had the natural effect 
of removing any traces of doubt which might have remained in 
the minds of the coroner's jury." 

" It was a confession," I ejaculated. 

" No, for it was followed by a protestation of innocence." 
*' Coming on the top of such a damning series of events, it 
was at least a most suspicious remark." 

" On the contraiy," said Holmes, " it is the brightest rift 


which I can at present see in the clouds. However innocent he 
might be, he could not be such an absolute imbecile as not to 
see that the circumstances were very black against him. Had 
he appeared surprised at his own arrest, or feigned indignation 
at it, I should have looked upon it as highly suspicious, because 
such surprise or anger would not be natural under the circum- 
stances, and yet might appear to be the best policy to a scheming 
man. His frank acceptance of the situation marks him as either 
an innocent man, or else as a man of considerable self-restraint 
and firmness. As to his remark about his deserts, it was also not 
unnatural if you consider that he stood by the dead body of his 
father, and that there is no doubt that he had that very day so far 
forgotten his filial duty as to bandy words with him, and even, 
according to the little girl whose evidence is so important, to 
raise his hand as if to strike him. The self-reproach and contrition 
which are displayed in his remark appear to me to be the signs of 
a healthy mind, rather than of a guilty one." 

I shook my head. " Many men have been hanged on far 
slighter evidence," I remarked. 

'* So they have. And many men have been wrongfully hanged." 
*' What is the young man's own account of the matter ? " 
'' It is, I am afraid, not very encouraging to his supporters, 
though there are one or two points in it which are suggestive. You 
will find it here, and may read it for yourself." 

He picked out from his bundle a copy of the local Herefordshire 
paper, and having turned down the sheet, he pointed out the 
paragraph in which the unfortunate young man had given his own 
statement of what had occurred. I settled myself down in the 
corner of the carriage, and read it very carefully. It ran in this 
way : — 

*' Mr. James McCarthy, the only son of the deceased, was then 
called, and gave evidence as follows : — ' I had been away from 
home for three days at Bristol, and had only just returned upon 
the morning of last Monday, the 3rd. My father was absent from 
home at the time of my arrival, and I was informed by the maid 
that he had driven over to Ross with John Cobb, the groom. 
Shortly after my return I heard the wheels of his trap in the 
yard, and, looking out of my window, I saw him get out and 
walk rapidly out of the yard, though I was not aware in which 


direction he was going. I then took my gun, and strolled out in 
the direction of the Boscombe Pool, with the intention of visiting 
the rabbit warren which is upon the other side. On my way I 
saw William Crowder, the gamekeeper, as he has stated in his 
evidence ; but he is mistaken in thinking that I was following 
my father. I had no idea that he was in front of me. When 
about a hundred yards from the Pool I heard a cry of ' Cooee ! ' 
which was a usual signal between my father and myself. I then 
hurried forward, and found him standing by the Pool. He appeared 
to be much surprised at seeing me, and asked me rather roughly 
what I was doing there. A conversation ensued, which led to 
high words, and almost to blows, for my father was a man of a 
very violent temper. Seeing that his passion was becoming un- 
governable, I left him, and returned towards Hatherley Farm. I 
had not gone more than one hundred and fifty yards, however, 
when I heard a hideous outcry behind me, which caused me to 
run back again. I found my father expiring on the ground, with 
his head terribly injured. I dropped my gun, and held him in 
my arms, but he almost instantly expired. I knelt beside him 
for some minutes, and then made my way to Mr. Turner's lodge- 
keeper, his house being the nearest, to ask for assistance. I saw 
no one near my father when I returned, and I have no idea how 
he came by his injuries. He was not a popular man, being some- 
what cold and forbidding in his manners; but he had, as far as I 
know, no active enemies. I know nothing further of the matter.' " 
" The Coroner : Did your father make any statement to you 
before he died ? 

" Witness : He mumbled a few words, but I could only catch 
some allusion to a rat. 

*' The Coroner : What did you understand by that ? 

" Witness : It conveyed no meaning to me. I thought that he 
was delirious. 

'* The Coroner : What was the point upon which you and your 
father had this final quarrel ? 

"Witness: I should prefer not to answer. 
. *' The Coroner: I am afraid that I must press it. 

*' Witness : It is really impossible for me to tell you. I can 
assure you that it has nothing to do with the sad tragedy which 




''The Coroner: That is for the Court to decide. I need not 
point out to you that your refusal to answer will prejudice your 
case considerably in any future proceedings which may arise. 

''Witness: I must still refuse. 

" The Coroner : I understand that the cry of ' Cooee ' was a 
common signal between you and your father? 

" Witness : It was. 

" The Coroner : " How was it, then, that he uttered it before 
he saw you, and before he even knew that you had returned from 
Bristol ? 

" Witness (with considerable confusion) : I do not know. 

" A Juryman : Did you see nothing which aroused your sus- 
picions when you returned on hearing the cry, and found your father 
fatally injured ? 


" Witness : Nothing definite. 

" The Coroner : What do you mean ? 

" Witness : I was so disturbed and excited as I rushed out into 
the open, that I could think of nothing except of m}^ father. Yet I 
have a vague impression that as I ran forward something lay upon 
the ground to the left of me. It seemed to me to be something grey 
in colour, a coat of some sort, or a plaid perhaps. When I rose 
from my father I looked round for it, but it was gone. 

** ' Do you mean that it disappeared before you went for help ? ' 

*' ' Yes, it was gone.' 

'* ' You cannot say what it was ? ' 

*' ' No, I had a feeling something was there.' 

*' ' How far from the body ? ' 

'* ' A dozen yards or so.' 

*' 'And how far from the edge of the wood ? ' 

" 'About the same.' 

*' ' Then if it was removed it was while you were within a dozen 
yards of it ? ' 

" 'Yes, but with my back towards it.' 

"This concluded the examination of the witness." 
" I see," said I, as I glanced down the column, " that the coroner 
in his concluding remarks was rather severe upon young McCarthy. 
He calls attention, and with reason, to the discrepancy about his 
father having signalled to him before seeing him, also to his refusal 
to give details of his conversation with his father, and his singular 
account of his father's dying words. They are all, as he remarks, 
very much against the son. 

Holmes laughed softly to himself, and stretched himself out 
upon the cushioned seat. "Both you and the coroner have been 
at some pains," said he, " to single out the very strongest points in 
the young man's favour. Don't you see that you alternately give 
him credit for having too much imagination and too little ? Too 
little, if he could not invent a cause of quarrel which would give 
him the sympathy of the jury; too much, if he evolved from his 
own inner consciousness anything so outre as a dying reference to 
a rat, and the incident of the vanishing cloth. No, sir, I shall 
approach this case from the point of view that what this young 
man says is true, and we shall see whither that hypothesis will lead 
us. And now here is my pocket Petrarchj and not another word 


shall I say of this case until we are on the scene of action. We 
lunch at Swindon, and I see that we shall be there in twenty 

It was nearly four o'clock when we at last, after passing through 
the beautiful Stroud Valley, and over the broad gleaming Severn, 
found ourselves at the pretty little country town of Ross. A lean, 
ferret-like man, furtive and sly-looking, was waiting for us upon the 
platform. In spite of the light brown dustcoat and leather leggings 
which he wore in deference to his rustic surroundings, I had no 
difficulty in recognising Lestrade, of Scotland-yard. With him we 
drove to the '' Hereford Arms," where a room had already been 
engaged for us. 

*' I have ordered a carriage," said Lestrade, as we sat over a cup 
of tea. *' I knew your energetic nature, and that you would not be 
happy until you had been on the scene of the crime." 

"It was very nice and complimentary of you," Holmes answered. 
*' It is entirely a question of barometric pressure." 

Lestrade looked startled. *' I do not quite follow," he said. 

" How is the glass? Twenty-nine, I see. No wind, and not a 
clolid in the sky. I have a easeful of cigarettes here which need 
smoking, and the sofa is very much superior to the usual country 
hotel abomination. I do not think that it is probable that I shall 
use the carriage to-night." 

Lestrade laughed indulgently. ''You have, no doubt, already 
formed your conclusions frDm the newspapers," he said. '' The case 
is as plain as a pikestaff, and the more one goes into it ihe plainer it 
becomes. Still, of course, one can't refuse a lady, and such a very 
positive one, too. She had heard of you, and would have your 
opinion, though I repeatedly told her that there was nothing which 
you could do which I had not already done. Why, bless my soul ! 
here is her carriage at the door." 

He had hardly spoken before there rushed into the room one of 
the most lovely young women that I have ever seen in my life. 
Her violet eyes shining, her lips parted, a pink flush upon her 
cheeks, all thought of her natural reserve lost in her overpowering 
excitement and concern. 

'* Oh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes ! " she cried, glancing from one to 
the other of us, and finally, with a woman's quick intuition, fastening 
upon my companion, ** I am so glad that you have come. I have 



driven down to tell you so. I know that James didn't do it. I 
know it, and I want you to start upon your work knowing it, too. 
Never let yourself doubt upon that point. We have known each 
other since we were little children, and I know his faults as no one 
else does; but he is too tender-hearted to hurt a fly. Such a charge 
is absurd to any one who really knows him." 

''I hope w^e may clear him, Miss Turner," said Sherlock Holmes. 
*' You may rely upon my doing all that I can." 

" But you have read the evidence. You have formed some 
conclusion ? Do you not see some loophole, some flaw ? Do you 
not yourself think that he is innocent ? " 

*'I think that it is very probable." 

*' There now! " she cried, throwing back her head, and looking 
defiantly at Lestrade. '* You hear ! He gives me hopes." 

Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. *' I am afraid that my 
colleague has been a little quick in forming his conclusions," he 

" But he is right. Oh ! I knowj 
that he is right. James never did 
it. And about his quarrel with his 
father, I am sure that the reason why 
he would not speak about it to the coroner was because I was 
concerned in it." 



" In what way ? " asked Holmes. 

"■ It is no time for me to hide anythin?^. James and his father 
had many disagreements about me. Mr. McCarthy was very 
anxious that there should be a marriage between us. James and 
I have always loved each other as brother and sister, but of course 
he is young, and has seen very little of life yet, and — and— well, he 
naturally did not wish to do anything like that yet. So there were 
quarrels, and this, I am sure, was one of them." 

" And your father ? " asked Holmes. " Was he in favour of 
such a union ? " 

*' No, he was averse to it also. No one but Mr. McCarthy was 
in favour of it." A quick blush passed over her fresh young face as 
Holmes shot one of his keen, questioning glances at her. 

*' Thank you for this information," said he. '' May I see your 
father if I call to-morrow ? " 

" I am afraid the doctor won't allow it." 
*'The doctor?" 

*' Yes, have you not heard ? Poor father has never been strong 
for years back, but this has broken him down completely. He has 
taken to his bed, and Dr. Willows says that he is a wreck, and that 
his nervous system is shattered. Mr. McCarthy was the only man 
alive who had known dad in the old days in Victoria." 
'^ Ha ! In Victoria! That is important." 
'' Yes, at the mines." 

*' Quite so; at the gold mines, where, as I understand, Mr. 
Turner made his money." 
" Yes, certainly." 

** Thank you, Miss Turner. You have been of material assist- 
ance to me."' 

" You will tell me if you have any news to-morrow. No doubt 
5^ou will go to the prison to see James. Oh, if you do, Mr. Holmes, 
do tell him that I know him to be innocent." 
" I will. Miss Turner." 

" I must go home now, for dad is very ill, and he misses me so 
if I leave him. Good-bye, and God help you in your undertaking." 
She hurried from the room as impulsively as she had entered, and 
we heard the wheels of her carriage rattle off down the street. 

^* I am ashamed of you, Holmes," said Lestrade with dignity, 
after a few minutes' silence. " Why should you raise up hopes 



which you are bound to disappoint ? I am not over-tender of heart, 
but I call it cruel." 

" I think that I see my way to clearing James McCarthy," said 
Holmes. *' Have you an order to see him in prison." 

'' Yes, but only for you and me." 

" Then I shall re-consider my resolution about going out. We 
have still time to take a train to Hereford and see him to-night ? " 


'* Then let us do so. Watson, I fear that you will find it very 
slow, but 1 shall only be away a couple of hours." 

I walked down to the station with them, and then wandered 
through the streets of 

the little town, finally -- _._,,^.._,, -™^--^^^_ 

returning to the hotel, | 

where I lay upon the 


rest myself in a yellow-backed novel. The puny plot of the story was 
so thin, however, when compared to the deep mystery through which 
we were groping, and I found my attention wander so constantly from 
the fiction to the fact, that 1 at last flung it across the room, and 
gave myself up entirely to a consideration of the events of the day. 
Supposing that this unhappy young man's story was absolutely true, 
then what hellish thing, what absolutely unforeseen and extraordinary 
calamity could have occurred between the time when he parted from 
his father, and the moment when, drawn back by his screams, he 
rushed into the glade ? It was something terrible and deadly. 


What could it be ? Might not the nature of the injuries reveal 
something to my medical instincts ? I rang the bell, and called for 
the weekly county paper, which contained a verbatim account of the 
inquest. In the surgeon's deposition it was stated that the posterior 
third of the left parietal bone and the left half of the occipital bone 
had been shattered by a heavy blow from a blunt weapon. I marked 
the spot upon my own head. Clearly such a blow must have been 
struck from behind. That was to some extent in favour of the 
accused, as when seen quarrelling he was face to face with his 
father. Still, it did not go for very much, for the older man might 
have turned his back before the blow fell. Still, it might be worth 
while to call Holmes' attention to it. Then there was the peculiar 
dying reference to a rat. What could that mean ? It could not be 
delirium. A man dying from a sudden blow does not commonly 
become delirious. No, it was more likely to be an attempt to 
explain how he met his fate. But what could it indicate ? I 
cudgelled my brains to find some possible explanation. And then 
the incident of the grey cloth, seen by young McCarthy. If that 
were true, the murderer must have dropped some part of his dress, 
presumably his overcoat, in his flight, and must have had the hardi- 
hood to return and carry it away at the instant when the son was 
kneeling with his back turned not a dozen paces off. What a tissue 
of mysteries and improbabilities the whole thing was! I did not 
wonder at Lestrade's opinion, and yet I had so much faith in 
Sherlock Holmes' insight that I could not lose hope as long as 
every fresh fact seemed to strengthen his conviction of young 
McCarthy's innocence. 

It was late before Sherlock Holmes returned. He came back 
alone, for Lestrade was staying in lodgings in the town. 

" The glass still keeps very high," he remarked; as he sat down. 
** It is of importance that it should not rain before we are able to go 
over the ground. On the other hand, a man should be at his very 
best and keenest for such nice work as that, and I did not wish 
to do it when fagged by a long journey. I have seen young 

" And what did you learn from him ? " 

*' Nothing." 

** Could he throw no light ? " 

'* None at all. I was inclined to think at one time that h^ 


knew who had done it, and was screening him or her, but I am 
convinced now that he is as puzzled as every one else. He is not 
a very quick-witted youth, though comely to look at, and, I should 
think, sound at heart." 

*' I cannot admire his taste," I remarked, *' if it is indeed a fact 
that he was averse to a marriage with so charming a young lady as 
this Miss Turner." 

" Ah, thereby hangs a rather painful tale. This fellow is madly, 

insanely in love with her, but some two years ago, when he was 

only a lad, and before he really knew her, for she had been away 

five years at a boarding-school, what does the idiot do but get into 

the clutches of a barmaid in Bristol, and marry her at a registry 

office ? No one knows a word of the matter, but you can imagine 

how maddening it must be to him to be upbraided for not doing 

what he would give his very eyes to do, but what he knows to be 

absolutely impossible. It was sheer frenzy of this sort which made 

him throw his hands up into the air when his father, at their last 

interview, was goading him on to propose to Miss Turner. On the 

other hand, he had no means of supporting himself, and his father, 

who was by all accounts a very hard man, would have thrown him 

over utterly had he known the truth. It was with his barmaid wife 

that he had spent the last three days in Bristol, and his father did 

not know where he was. Mark that point. It is of importance. 

Good has come out of evil, however, for the barmaid, finding from 

the papers that he is in serious trouble, and likely to be hanged, 

has thrown him over utterly, and has written to him to say that she 

has a husband already in the Bermuda Dockyard, so that there is 

really no tie between them. I think that that bit of news has 

consoled young McCarthy for all that he has suffered." 

*' But if he is innocent, who has done it ? " 

" Ah 1 who ? I would call your attention very particularly to 
two points. One is that the murdered man had an appointment 
with some one at the Pool, and that the some one could not have 
been his son, for his son was away, and he did not know when he 
would return. The second is that the murdered man was heard to 
cry, ' Cooee ! ' before he knew that his son had returned. Those are 
the crucial points upon which' the case depends. And now let us 
talk about George Meredith, if you please, and we shall leave all 
minor matters until to-morrow."- 


There was no rain, as Holmes had foretold, and the morning 
broke bright and cloudless. At nine o'clock Lestrade called for us 
with the carriage, and we set off for Hatherley Farm and the 
Boscombe Pool. 

" There is serious news this morning," Lestrade observed. '' It 
is said that Mr. Turner, of the Hall, is so ill that his life is 
despaired of." 

*'An elderly man, I presume? " said Holmes. 

" About sixty ; but his constitution has been shattered by his 
life abroad, and he has been in failing health for some time. This 
business has had a very bad effect upon him. He was an old 
friend of McCarthy's, and, I may add, a great benefactor to him, 
for I have learned that he gave him Hatherley Farm rent free." 

" Indeed ! That is interesting," said Holmes. 

*' Oh, yes ! In a hundred other ways he has helped him. 
Everybody about here speaks of his kindness to him." 

" Really ! Does it not strike you as a little singular that this 
McCarthy, who appeals to have had little of his own, and to have 
been under such obligations to Turner, should still talk of marrying 
his son to Turner's daughter, who is, presumably, heiress to the 
estate, and that in such a very cocksure manner, as if it was merely 
a case of a proposal and all else would follow ? It is the more 
strange since we know that Turner himself was averse to the idea. 
The daughter told us as much. Do you not .deduce something from 
that ? " 

*' We have got to the deductions and the inferences," said 
Lestrade, winking at me. " I find it hard enough to tackle facts, 
Holmes, without flying away after theories and fancies." 

*' You are right," said Holmes, demurely; "you do find it very 
hard to tackle the facts." 

" Anyhow, I have grasped one fact which you seem to find it 
difficult to get hold of," replied Lestrade, with some warmth. 

'*And that is?" 

*' That McCarthy, senior, met his death from McCarthy, junior, 
and that all theories to the contrary are the merest moonshine." 

" Well, moonshine is a brighter thing than fog," said Holmes, 
laughing. " But I am very much mistaken if this is not Hatherley 
Farm upon the left." 

" Yes, that is it." It was a widespread, comfortable-looking 



building, two-storied, slate roofed, with great yellow blotches of 
lichen upon the grey walls. The drawn blinds and the smokeless 
chimneys, however, gave it a stricken look, as though the weight of 
this horror still lay heavy upon it. We called at the door, when 
the maid, at Holmes' request, showed us the boots which her 
master wore at the time of his death, and also a pair of the son's, 
though not the pair which he had then had. Having measured 
these very carefully from seven or eight different points. Holmes 



desired to be led to the courtyard, from which we all followed the 
winding track which led to Boscombe Pool. 

Sherlock Holmes was transformed when he was hot upon such 
a scent as this. Men who had only known the quiet thinker and 
logician of Baker-street would have failed to recognise him. His 
face flushed and darkened. His brows were drawn into two hard, 
black lines, while his eyes shone out from beneath them with a 
steely glitter. His face was bent downwards, his shoulders bowed, 
his lips compressed, and the veins stood out like whipcord in his 


long, sinewy neck. His nostrils seemed to dilate with a purely 
animal lust for the chase, and his mind was so absolutely concen- 
trated upon the matter before him, that a question or remark fell 
unheeded upon his ears, or at the most, only provoked a quick, 
impatient snarl in reply. Swiftly and silently he made his way 
along the track which ran through the meadows, and so by way of 
the woods to the Boscombe Pool. It was damp, marshy ground, 
as is all that district, and there were marks of many feet, both upon 
the path, and amid the short grass which bounded it on either side. 
Sometimes Holmes would hurry on, sometimes stop dead, and once 
he made quite a little detour into the meadow. Lestrade and I 
walked behind him, the detective indifferent and contemptuous, 
while I watched my friend with the interest which sprang from the 
conviction that every one of his actions were directed towards a 
definite end. 

The Boscombe Pool, which is a little reed-girt sheet of water 
some fifty yards across, is situated at tlie boundary between the 
Hatherley Farm and the private park of the wealthy Mr. Turner. 
Above the woods which lined it upon the further side we could see 
the red jutting pinnacles which marked the site of the rich land- 
owner's dwelling. On the Hatherley side of the Pool the woods 
grew very thick, and there was a narrow belt of sodden grass twenty 
paces across between the edge of the trees and the reeds which lined 
the lake. Lestrade showed us the exact spot at which the body 
had been found, and, indeed, so moist was the ground, that I could 
plainly see the traces which had been left by the fall of the stricken 
man. To Holmes, as I could see by his eager face and peering 
eyes, very many other things were to be read upon the trampled 
grass. He ran round, like a dog who is picking up a scent, and 
then turned upon my companion. 

*' What did you go into the Pool for ? " he asked. 

" I fished about with a rake. I thought there might be some 

weapon or other trace. But how on earth ? " 

" Oh, tut, tut ! I have no time ! That left foot of yours with 
its inward twist is all over the place. A mole could trace it, and 
there it vanishes among the reeds. Oh, how simple it would all 
have been had I been here before they came like a herd of buffalo, 
and wallowed all over it. Here is where the party with the lodge- 
keeper came, and they have covered all tracks for six or eight feet 



round the body. But here are three separate tracks of the same 
feet." He drew out a lens, and lay down upon his waterproof to 
have a better view, talking all the time rather to himself than to us. 
" These are young McCarthy's feet. Twice he was walking, and 
once he ran swiftly so that the soles are deeply marked, and the 
heels hardly visible. That bears out his story. He ran when he 
saw his father on the ground. Then here are the father's feet as 
he paced up and down. What is this, then ? It is the butt end of 
the gun as the son stood listening. And this ? Ha, ha ! What 
have we here? Tip-toes! tip-toes! Square, too, quite unusual 
boots ! They come, they go, they come again — of course that was 




for the cloak. Now where did they come from ? " He ran up and 
down, sometimes losing, sometimes finding the track until we were 
well within the edge of the wood, and under the shadow of a 
great beech, the largest tree in the neighbourhood. Holmes traced 
his way to the further side of this, and lay down once more upon 
his face with a little cry of satisfaction. For a long time he 
remained there, turning over the leaves and dried sticks, gathering 
up what seemed to me to be dust into an envelope, and examining 
with his lens not only the ground, but even the bark of the tree as 
far as he could reach. -A jagged stone was lying among the moss, 
and this also he carefully examined and retained. Then he followed 



a pathway through the wood until he came to the high road, where 
all traces were lost. 

*' It has been a case of considerable interest," he remarked, 
returning to his natural manner. *' I fancy that this grey house on 
the right must be the lodge. I think that I will go in and have a 
word with Moran, and perhaps write a little note. Having done 
that, we may drive back to our luncheon. You may walk to the 
cab, and I shall be with you presently." 

It was about ten minutes before we regained our cab, and drove 
back into Ross, Holmes still carrying with him the stone which he 
had picked up in the wood. 

" This may interest you, Lestrade," he remarked, holding it out. 
** The murder was done with it." 

" I see no marks." 

" There are none." 

*' How do you know, then ? " 

*' The grass was growing under it. It had only lain there a few 
days. There was no sign of a place whence it had been taken. It 
corresponds with the injuries. There is no sign of any other 

*' And the murderer ? " 

** Is a tall man, left-handed, limps with the right leg, wears 
thick-soled shooting boots and a grey cloak, smokes Indian cigars, 
uses a cigar-holder, and carries a blunt penknife in his pocket. 
There are several other indications, but these may be enough to aid 
us in our search." 

Lestrade laughed. " I am afraid that I am still a sceptic," he 
said. " Theories are all very well, but we have to deal with a hard- 
headed British jury." 

^' Nous verrons,'" answered Holmes, calmly. "You work your 
own method, and I shall work mine. I shall be busy this after- 
noon, and shall probably return to London by the evening train." 

*' And leave your case unfinished ? " 

** No, finished." 

**But the mystery?" 

** It is solved." 

*' Who was the criminal, then ? " 

** The gentleman I describe," 

" But who is he ? " 


" Surely it would not be difficult to find out. This is not such 
a populous neighbourhood." 

Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. " I am a practical man," he 
said, *'and I really cannot undertake to go about the country 
looking for a left-handed gentleman with a game leg. I should 
become the laughing-stock of Scotland-yard." 

" All right," said Holmes, quietly. *' I have given you the 
chance. Here are your lodgings. Good-bye. I shall drop you a 
line before I leave." 

Having left Lestrade at his rooms we drove to our hotel, where 
we found lunch upon the table. Holmes was silent and buried in 
thought with a pained expression upon his face, as one who finds 
himself in a perplexing position. 

"Look here, Watson," he said, when the cloth was cleared ; 
** just sit down in this chair and let me preach to you for a little. 
I don't quite know what to do, and I should value your advice. 
Light a cigar, and let me expound." 

" Pray do so." 

" Well, now, in considering this case there are two points about 
young McCarthy's narrative which struck us both instantly, 
although they impressed me in his favour and you against him. 
One was the fact that his father should, according to his account, 
cry * Cooee ! ' before seeing him. The other was his singular dying 
reference to a rat. He mumbled several words, you understand, but 
that was all that caught the son's ear. Now from this double point 
our research must commence, and we will begin it by presuming 
that what the lad says is absolutely true." 

" What of this Xooee 1 ' then ? " 

Well, obviously it could not have been meant for the son. 
The son, as far as he knew, was in Bristol. It was mere chance 
that he was within earshot. The ' Cooee ! ' was meant to attract 
the attention of whoever it was that he had the appointment with. 
But * Cooee ' is a distinctly Australian cry, and one which is used 
between Australians. There is a strong presumption that the 
person whom McCarthy expected to meet him at Boscombe Pool 
was some one who had been in Australia." 

*' What of the rat, then ? " 

Sherlock Holmes took a folded paper from his pocket and 
flattened it out on the table. *' This is a map of the Colony of 


Victoria," he said. " I wired to Bristol for it last night.'* He put 
his hand over part of the map. " What do you read ? " he asked. 

*' ARAT," I read. 

** And now ? " He raised his hand. 


" Quite so. That was the word the man uttered, and of which 
his son only caught the last two syllables. He was trying to utter 
the name of his murderer. So-and-so of Ballarat." 

" It is wonderful ! " I exclaimed. 

" It is obvious. And now, you see, I had narrowed the field 
down considerably. The possession of a grey garment was a third 
point which, granting the son's statement to be correct, was a 
certainty. We have come now out of mere vagueness to the 
definite conception of an Australian from Ballarat with a grey 


'' And one who was at home in the district, for the Pool can 
only be approached by the farm or by the estate, where strangers 
could hardly wander." 

''Quite so." 

*' Then comes our expedition of to-day. By an examination 
of the ground I gained the trifling details which I gave to that 
imbecile Lestrade, as to the personality of the criminal." 

" But how did you gain them ? " 

*' You know my method. It is founded upon the observance of 

" His height I know that you might roughly judge from the 
length of his stride. His boots, too, might be told from their 

" Yes, they were peculiar boots." 

" But his lameness ? " 

" The impression of his right foot was always less distinct than 
his left. He put less weight upon it. Why ? Because he limped 
— he was lame." 

*' But his left-handedness.'' 

" You were yourself struck by the nature of the injury as re- 
corded by the surgeon at the inquest. The blow was struck from 
immediately behind, and yet was upon the left side. Now, how can 
that be unless it were by a left-handed man ? He had stood behind 



that tree during the interview between the father and son. He had 
even smoked there. I found the ash of a cigar, which my special 

knowledge of to- 
bacco ashes enabled 
me to pronounce as 
an Indian cigar. I 
have, as you know, 
devoted some atten- 
tion to this, and 
written a little mono- 
graph on the ashes 
of 140 different 
varieties of pipe, 
cigar, and cigarette 
tobacco. Having 
found the ash, I then 
looked round and 
disco ve red the 
stump among the 
moss where he had 
tossed it. It was 
an Indian cigar, of 
the variety which 
are rolled in Rot- 

** And the cigar- 

" I could see that 

the end had not been 

in his mouth. Therefore he used a holder. The tip had been cut 

off, not bitten off, but the cut was not a clean one, so I deduced 

a blunt penknife." 

" Holmes," I said, " you have drawn a net round this man from 
which he cannot escape, and you have saved an innocent human life 
as truly as if you had cut the cord which was hanging him. I see 

the direction in which all this points. The culprit is " 

" Mr. John Turner," cried the hotel waiter, opening the door ot 
our sitting-room, and ushering in a visitor. 

The man who entered was a strange and impressive figure. His 




slow, limping step and bowed shoulders gave the appearance of 
decrepitude, and yet his hard, deep-lined, craggy features, and 
his enormous limbs showed that he was possessed of unusual 
strength of body and of character. His tangled beard, grizzled hair, 
and outstanding, drooping eyebrows combined to give an air of 
dignity and power to his appearance, but his face was of an ashen 
white, while his lips and the corners of his nostrils were tinged with 
a shade of blue. It was clear to me at a glance that he was in the 
grip of some deadly and chronic disease. 

'* Pray sit down on the 
sofa," said Holmes, gently. 
** You had my note ? " 

** Yes, the lodge-keeper 
brought it up. You said that 
you wished to see me here to 
avoid scandal." 

" I thought people would 
talk if I went to the Hall." 

'* And why did you wish 
to see me ? " He looked 
across at my companion with 
despair in his weary eyes, as 
though his question were 
already answered. 

*' Yes," said Holmes, an- 
swering the look rather than 
the words. " It is so. I 
know all about McCarthy." 

The old man sank his 
face in his hands. *' God 
help me ! " he cried. " But 
I would not have let the 
young man come to harm. 
I give you my word that I would have spoken out if it went against 
him at the Assizes." 

" I am glad to hear you say so," said Holmes, gravely. 
" I would have spoken now had it not been for my dear girl. It 
would break her heart — it will break her heart when she hears that 
I am arres'cd." 



*' It may not come to that," said Holmes. 


*' I am no official agent. I understand that it was your 
daughter who required my presence here, and I am acting in 
her interests. Young McCarthy must be got off, however." 

*' I am a dying man," said old Turner. *' I have had diabetes 
for years. My doctor says it is a question whether I shall live a 
month. Yet I would rather die under my own roof than in a gaol." 

Holmes rose and sat down at the table with his pen in his hand 
and a bundle of paper before him. *' Just tell us the truth," he 
said. " I shall jot down the facts. You will sign it, and Watson 
here can witness it. Then I could produce your confession at the 
last extremity to save young McCarthy. I promise you that I shall 
not use it unless it is absolutely needed." 

*' It's as well," said the old man; ''it's a question whether I 
shall live to the Assizes, so it matters little to me, but I should 
wish to spare Alice the shock. And now I will make the thing 
clear to you ; it has been a long time in the acting, but will not take 
me long to tell. 

" You didn't know this dead man, McCarthy. He was a devil 
incarnate. I tell you that. God keep you out of the clutches of 
such a man as he. His grip has been upon me these twenty years, 
and he has blasted my life. I'll tell you first how I came to be in 
his power. 

" It was in the early sixties at the diggings. I was a young 
chap then, hot-blooded and reckless, ready to turn my hand to 
anything ; I got among bad companions, took to drink, had no luck 
with my claim, took to the bush, and, in a word, became what you 
would call over here a highway robber. There were six of us, and 
we had a wild, free life of it, sticking up a station from time to 
time, or stopping the waggons on the road to the diggings. Black 
Jack of Ballarat was the name I went under, and our party is still 
remembered in the colony as the Ballarat Gang. 

*' One day a gold convoy came down from Ballarat to Melbourne, 
and we lay in wait for it and attacked it. There were six troopers 
and six of us, so it was a close thing, but we emptied four of their 
saddles at the first volley. Three of our boys were killed, however, 
before we got the swag. I put my pistol to the head of the waggon- 
driver, who was this very man McCarthy. I wish to the Lord that 


I had shot him then, but I spared him, though I saw his wicked 
Httle eyes fixed on my face, as though to remember every feature. 
We got away with the gold, became wealthy men, and made our 
way over to England without being suspected. There I parted 
from my old pals, and determined to settle down to a quiet and 
respectable life. I bought this estate which chanced to be in the 
market, and I set myself to do a little good with my money, to 
make up for the way in which I had earned it. I married, too, and 
though my wife died young, she left me my dear little Alice. Even 
when she was just a baby her wee hand seemed to lead me down 
the right path as nothing else had ever done. In a word, I turned 
over a new leaf, and did my best to make up for the past. All was 
going well when McCarthy laid his grip upon me. 

** I had gone up to town about an investment, and I met him in 
Regent-street with hardly a coat to his back or a boot to his foot. 

*' * Here we are. Jack,' says he, touching miC on the arm ; * we'll 
be as good as a family to you. There's two of us, me and my son, 
and you can have the keeping of us. If you don't — it's a fine, law- 
abiding country is England, and there's always a policeman within 

** Well, down they came to the West country, there was no 
shaking them off, and there they have lived rent free on my best 
land ever since. There was no rest for me, no peace, no forgetful- 
ness ; turn where I would, there was his cunning, grinning face 
at my elbow. It grew worse as Alice grew up, for he soon saw 
I was more afraid of her knowing my past than of the police. 
Whatever he wanted he must have, and whatever it was I gave 
him without question, land, money, houses, until at last he asked a 
thing which I could not give. He asked for Alice. 

*' His son, you see, had grown up, and so had my girl, and as I 
was known to be in weak health, it seemed a fine stroke to him 
that his lad should step into the whole property. But there I was 
firm. I would not have his cursed stock mixed with mine; not 
that I had any dislike to the lad, but his blood was in him, and that 
was enough. I stood firm. McCarthy threatened. I braved him 
to do his worst. We were to meet at the Pool midway between our 
houses to talk it over. 

** When I went down there I found him talking with his son, so 
I smoked a cigar, and waited behind a tree until he should be alone. 



But as I listened to his talk all that was black and bitter in me 
seemed to come uppermost. He was urging his son to marry my 
daughter with as little regard for what she might think as if she 
were a slut from off the streets. It drove me mad to think that I 
and all that I held most dear should be in the power of such a man 
as this. Could I not snap the bond ? I was already a dying and a 
desperate man. Though clear of mind and fairly strong of limb, I 
knew that my own fate was sealed. But my memory and my girl ! 
Both could be saved, if I could but silence that foul tongue. I did 
it, Mr. Holmes. I would do it again. Deeply as I have sinned, I 
have led a life of martyrdom, to atone for it. But that my girl 
should be entangled in the same meshes which held me was more 
than I could suffer. I struck him down with no more com- 
punction than if he had been some foul and venomous beast. His 
cry brought back his son ; but I had gained the cover of the wood, 
though I was forced to go back to fetch the cloak which I had 
dropped in my flight. That is the true story, gentlemen, of all 
that occurred." 

"Well, it is not for me to judge you," said Holmes, as the old 
man signed the 
statement which 
had been drawn 
out. "I pray that 
we may never be 
exposed to such 
a temptation." 

** I pray not, 
sir. And what 
do you intend to 

"In view of 
your health, 
nothing. You 
are yourself 
aware that you y^ 
will soon have to 
answer for your 
deed at a higher 
Court than the 



Assizes. I will keep your confession, and, if McCarthy is con- 
demned, I shall be forced to use it. If not, it shall never be seen 
by mortal eye ; and your secret, whether you be alive or dead, shall 
be safe with us." 

" Farewell ! then," said the old man, solemnly. '' Your own 
death-beds, when they come, will be the easier for the thought of 
the peace which you have given to mine." Tottering and shaking 
in all his giant frame, he stumbled slowly from the room. 

*' God help us ! " said Holmes, after a long silence. " Why 
does fate play such tricks with poor helpless worms ? I never 
hear of such a case as this that I do not think of Baxter's words, 
and say, * There, but for the grace of God, goes Sherlock Holmes.' " 

James McCarthy was acquitted at the Assizes, on the strength 
of a number of objections which had been drawn out by Holmes, 
and submitted to the defending counsel. Old Turner lived for 
seven months after our interview, but he is now dead ; and there 
is every prospect that the son and daughter may come to live 
happily together, in ignorance of the black cloud which rests upon 
their past. 



^^^HEN I glance over my notes and records of the Sherlock 
Holmes cases between the years '82 and '90, I am 

faced by so many which present strange and inte- 
resting features, that it is no easy matter to know which 
to choose and which to leave. Some, however, have 
already gained publicity through the papers, and others have not 
offered a field for those peculiar qualities which my friend possessed 
in so high a degree, and which it is the object of these papers to 
illustrate. Some, too, have baffled his analytical skill, and would 
be, as narratives, beginnings without an ending, while others have 
been but partially cleared up, and have their explanations founded 
rather upon conjecture and surmise than on that absolute logical 
proof which was so dear to him. There is, however, one of these 
last which was so remarkable in its details and so startling in its 
results, that I am tempted to give some account of it, in spite of the 
fact that there are points in connection with it which never have 
been, and probably never will be, entirely cleared up. 

The year 'Sy furnished us with a long series of cases of greater 
or less interest, of which I retain the records. Among my headings 
under this one twelve months, I find an account of the adventure of 
the Paradol Chamber, of the Amateur Mendicant Society, who held 
a luxurious club in the lower vault of a furniture warehouse, of the 
facts connected with the loss of the British barque Sophy Anderson, 
of the singular adventures of the Grice Patersons in the island of 
Uffa, and finally of the Camberwell poisoning case. In the latter, 
as may be remembered, Sherlock Holmes was able, by winding up 
the dead man's watch, to prove that it had been wound up two 
hours ago, and that therefore the deceased had gone to bed within 
that time — a deduction which was of the greatest importance in 

clearing up the case. All these I may sketch out at some future 



date, but none of them present such singular features as the strange 
train of circumstances which I have now taken up my pen to 

It was in the latter days of September, and the equinoctial 
gales had set in with exceptional violence. All day the wind had 
screamed and the rain had beaten against the windows, so that even 
here in the heart of great, hand-made London we were forced to 
raise our minds for the instant from the routine of life, and to 
recognise the presence of those great elemental forces which shriek 
at mankind through the bars of his civilisation, like untamed beasts 
in a cage. As evening drew in the storm grew higher and louder, 
and the wind cried and sobbed like a child in the chimney. 
Sherlock Holmes sat moodily at one side of the fireplace cross- 
indexing his records of crime, whilst I at the other was deepi in one 
of Clark Russell's fine sea-stories, until the howl of the gale from 
without seemed to blend with the text, and the splash of the rain to 
lengthen out into the long swash of the sea waves. My wife was 
on a visit to her aunt's, and for a few days I was a dweller once 
more in my old quarters at Baker-street. 

"Why," said I, glancing up at my companion, ''that was surely 
the bell. Who could come to-night ? Some friend of yours, per- 
haps ? " 

" Except yourself I have none," he answered. " I do not 
encourage visitors." 

*' A client, then? " 

** If so, it is a serious case. Nothing less would bring a man out 
on such a day, and at such an hour. But I that it is more 
likely to be some crony of the landlady's." 

Sherlock Holmes was wrong in his conjecture, however, for there 
came a step in the passage, and a tapping at the door. He stretched 
out his long arm to turn the lamp away from himself and towards 
the vacant chair upon which a new-comer must sit. " Come in ! " 
said he. 

The man who entered was young, some two-and-twenty at the 
outside, well groomed and trimly clad, with something of refine- 
ment and delicacy in his bearing. The streaming umbrella which 
he held in his hand, and his long shining waterproof told of 
the fierce weather through which he had come. He looked 
about him anxiously in the glare of the lamp, and I could see 



that his face was pale and his eyes heavy, like those of a man 
who is weighed down with some great anxiety. 

*' I owe you an apology," he 
said, raising his golden pince-nez, 
to his eyes. " I trust that I am 
not intruding. I fear that I have 
brought some traces of the storm 
and the rain into your snug 

" Give me your coat and um- 
brella," said Holmes. "They may 
rest here on the hook, and will be 
dry presently. You have come up 
from the south-west, I see." 
" Yes, from Horsham." 
"That clay and chalk mixture 
which I see upon your toe-caps is 
quite distinctive. 

" I have come for advice." 
" That is easily got." 
" And help." 

** That is not always so easy." 
" I have heard of you, Mr. 
Holmes. I heard from Major 
Prendergast how you saved him 
in the Tankerville Club Scandal." 
*' Ah, of course. He was wrongfully accused of cheating at 

" He said that you could solve anything." 
" He said too much." 
" That you are never beaten." 

" I have been beaten four times — three times by men, and once 
by a woman." 

" But what is that compared with the number of your suc- 
cesses ? " 

" It is true that I have been generally successful." 
" Then you may be so with me." 

** I beg that you will draw your chair up to the fire, and favour 
me with some details as to your case." 



** It is no ordinary one." 

" None of those which come to me are. I am the last court of 

"And yet I question, sir, whether, in all your experience, you 
have ever listened to a more mysterious and inexplicable chain of 
events than those which have happened in my own family." 

"You fill me with interest," said Holmes. " Pray give us the 
essential facts from the commencement, and I can afterwards 
question you as to those details which seem to me to be most 

The young man pulled his chair up, and pushed his wet feet out 
towards the blaze. 

" My name," said he, " is John Openshaw, but my own affairs 
have, as far as I can understand it, little to do with this awful 
business. It is a hereditary matter, so in order to give you an idea 
of the facts, I must go back to the commencement of the affair. 

" You must know that my grandfather had two sons — my uncle 
Elias and my father Joseph. My father had a small factory at 
Coventry, which he enlarged at the time of the invention of bicy- 
cling. He was the patentee of the Openshaw unbreakable tire, and 
his business met with such success that he was able to sell it, and 
to retire upon a handsome competence. 

" My uncle Elias emigrated to America when he was a young 
man, and became a planter in Florida, where he was reported to 
have done very well. At the time of the war he fought in Jackson's 
army, and afterwards under Hood, where he rose to be a colonel. 
When Lee laid down his arms my uncle returned to his plantation, 
where he remained for three or four years. About 1869 or 1870 he 
came back to Europe, and took a small estate in Sussex, near 
Horsham. He had made a very considerable fortune in the States, 
and his reason for leaving them was his aversion to the negroes, 
and his dislike of the Republican policy in extending the franchise 
to them. He was a singular man, fierce and quick-tempered, very 
foul-mouthed when he was angry, and of a most retiring disposition. 
During all the years that he lived at Horsham I doubt if ever he 
set foot in the town. He had a garden and two or three fields 
round his house, and there he would take his exercise, though very 
often for weeks on end he would never .leave his room. He drank 
a great deal of brandy, and smoked very heavily, but he would 


see no society, and did not want any friends, not even his own 

" He didn't mind me, in fact he took a fancy to me, for at the 
time when he saw me first I was a youngster of twelve or so. That 
would be in the year 1878, after he had been eight or nine years in 
England. He begged my father to let me live with him, and he 
was very kind to me in his way. When he was sober he used to be 
fond of playing backgammon and draughts with me, and he would 
make me his representative both with the servants and with the 
tradespeople, so that by the time that I was sixteen I was quite 
master of the house. I kept all the keys, and could go where I 
liked and do what I liked, so long as I did not disturb him in his 
privacy. There was one singular exception, however, for he had 
a single room, a lumber room up among the attics, which was 
invariably locked, and which he would never permit either me or 
any one else to enter. With a boy's curiosity I have peeped through 
the keyhole, but I was never able to see more than such a col- 
lection of old trunks and bundles as would be expected in such a 

*' One day— it was in March, 1883— a letter with a foreign stamp 
lay upon the table in front of the Colonel's plate. It was not a 
common thing for him to receive letters, for his bills were all paid 
in ready money, and he had no friends of any sort. * From India ! ' 
said he, as he took it up, ' Pondicherry postmark ! What can this 
be ? ' Opening it hurriedly, out there jumped five little dried orange 
pips, which pattered down upon his plate. I began to laugh at this, 
but the laugh was struck from my lips at the sight of his face. His 
lip had fallen, his eyes were protruding, his skin the colour of putty, 
and he glared at the envelope which he still held in his trembling 
hand. ' K. K. K.,' he shrieked, and then, ' My God, my God, my 
sins have overtaken me." 

*** What is it, uncle?' I cried. 

*** Death,' said he, and rising from the table he retired to his 
room, leaving me palpitating with horror. I took up the envelope, 
and saw scrawled in red ink upon the inner flap, just above the gum, 
the letter K three times repeated. There was nothing else save the 
five dried pips. What could be the reason of his overpowering 
terror ? I left the breakfast table, and as I ascended the stair I 
met him coming down with an old rusty key, which must have 


belonged to the attic, in one hand, and a small brass box, like a 
cash box, in the other. 

** * They may do what they like, but I'll checkmate them still,* 
said he, with an oath. * Tell Mary that I shall want a fire in my 
room to-da}', and send down to Fordham, the Horsham lawyer.' 

" I did as he ordered, and when the lawyer arrived I was asked 
to step up to the room. The fire was burning brightly, and in the 
grate there was a mass of black, fluffy ashes, as of burned paper, 
while the brass box stood open and empty beside it. As I glanced 
at the box I noticed, with a start, that upon the lid were printed the 
treble K which I had read in the morning upon the envelope. 

" * I wish you, John,' said my uncle, ' to witness my will. I 
leave my estate, with all its advantages and all its disadvantages 
to my brother, your father, whence it will, no doubt, descend to you. 
If you can enjoy it in peace, well and good ! If you find you cannot, 
take my advice, my boy, and leave it to your deadliest enemy. I am 
sorry to give you such a two-edged thing, but I can't say what turn 
things are going to take. Kindly sign the paper where Mr. Fordham 
shows you.' 

" I signed the paper as directed, and the lawyer took it away 
with him. The singular incident made, as you may think, the 
deepest impression upon me, and I pondered over it, and turned it 
every way in my mind without being able to make anything of it. 
Yet I could not shake off the vague feeling of dread which it left 
behind it, though the sensation grew less keen as the weeks passed, 
and nothing happened to disturb the usual routine of our lives. I 
could see a change in my uncle, however. He drank more than 
ever, and he w^as less inclined for any sort of society. Most of his 
time he v/ould spend in his room, with the door locked upon the 
inside, but sometimes he would emerge in a sort of drunken frenzy, 
and would burst out of the house and tear about the garden with a 
revolver in his hand, screaming out that he was afraid of no man, 
and that he was not to be cooped up, like a sheep in a pen, by man 
or devil. When these hot fits were over, however, he would rush 
tumultuously in at the door, and lock and bar it behind him, like a 
man who can brazen it out no longer against the terror which lies 
at the roots of his soul. At such times I have seen his face, even 
on a cold day, glisten with moisture as though it were new raised 
from a basin. 



** Well, to come to an end of the matter, Mr. Holmes, and not 
to abuse your patience, there came a night when he made one of 
those drunken sallies from which he never came back. We found 
him, when we went to search for him, face downwards in a little 
green-scummed pool, which lay at the foot of the garden. There 
was no sign of any violence, and the water was but two feet deep, 
so that the jury, having regard to his known eccentricity, brought in 
a verdict of suicide. But I, who knew how he winced from the very 
thought of death, had 
much ado to persuade 
myself that he had gone 
out of his way to meet 
it. The matter passed 
however, and my father 
entered into possession 
of the estate, and of some 
fourteen thousand 
pounds, which lay 
to his credit at the 


" One moment," Holmes interposed. " Your statement is, I 
foresee, one of the most remarkable to which I have ever listened. 
Let me have the date of the reception by your uncle of the letter, 
and the date of his supposed suicide." 

"The latter arrived on March the loth, 1883. His death was 
seven weeks later, upon the night of the 2nd of May." 

" Thank you. Pray proceed." 

" When my father took over the Horsham property, he, at my 
request, made a careful examination of the attic, which had been 




always locked up. We found the brass box there, although its 
contents had been destroyed. On the inside of the cover was a 
paper label, with the initials K. K. K. repeated upon it, and * Letters, 
memoranda, receipts and a register' written beneath. These, we 
presume, indicated the nature of the papers which had been 
destroyed by Colonel Openshaw. For the rest, there was nothing 
of much importance in the attic, save a great many scattered papers 
and notebooks bearing upon my uncle's life in America. Some of 
them were of the war time, and showed that he had done his duty 
well, and had borne the repute of being a brave soldier. Others were 
of a date during the reconstruction of the Southern States, and were 
mostly concerned with politics, for he had evidently taken a strong 
part in opposing the carpet-bag politicians who had been sent down 
from the North. 

" Well, it was the beginning of '84 when my father came to live 
at Horsham, and all went as well as possible with us until the 
January of '85. On the fourth day after the New Year I heard my 
father give a sharp cry of surprise as we sat together at the break- 
fast table. There he 
was, sitting with a 
newly - opened envelope 
in one hand and five 
dried orange-pips in the 
out - stretched palm of 
the other one. He had 
always laughed at what 
he called my 
story about the 
Colonel, but he 
looked very 
puzzled and 
scared now that 
the same thing 
had come upon 
himself. \ 

'''Why, what 
on earth does this mean, John ? ' he stammered. 

" My heart had turned to lead. ' It is K. K. K.' said T. 



" He looked inside the envelope. * So it is,' he cried. *' Here 
are the very letters. But what is this written above them ? ' 

" ' Put the papers on the sun-dial,' I read, peeping over his 

*' ' What papers ? What sun-dial ? ' he asked. 

" ' The sun-dial in the garden. There is no other,' said I ; ' but 
the papers must be those that are destroyed.' 

" ' Pooh ! ' said he, gripping hard at his courage. * We are in 
a civilised land here, and we can't have tomfoolery of this kind. 
Where does the thing come from ? ' 

" ' From Dundee,' I answered, glancing at the postmark. 

*'* Some preposterous practical joke,' said he. 'What have I to do 
with sun-dials and papers? I shall take no notice of such nonsense.' 

*' * I should certainly speak to the police,' I said. 

" ' And be laughed at for my pains. Nothing of the sort.' 

" ' Then let me do so ? ' 

" * No, I forbid you. I won't have a fuss made about such 

" It was in vain to argue with him, for he was a very obstinate 
man. I went about, however, with a heart which was full of 

" On the third da}^ after the coming of the letter my father went 
from home to visit an old friend of his, Mnjor Freebody, who is in 
command of one of the forts upon Portsdown Hill. I was glad 
that he should go, for it seemed to me that he was further 
from danger when he was away from home. In that, however, 
I was in error. Upon the second day of his absence I received 
a telegram from the Major, imploring me to come at once. 
My father had fallen over one of the deep chalk-pits which 
abound in the neighbourhood, and was lying senseless, with a 
shattered skull. I hurried to him, but he passed away without 
having ever recovered his consciousness. He had, as it appears, 
been returning from Fareham in the twilight, and as the country 
was unknown to him, and the chalk-pit unfenced, the jur}^ had no 
hesitation in bringing in a verdict of ' Death from accidental 
causes.' Carefully as I examined every fact connected with his 
death, I was unable to find anything which could suggest the idea 
of murder. There were no signs of violence, no footmarks, no 
robbery, no record of strangers having been seen upon the roads. 



And yet I need not tell you that my mind was far from at ease, and 
that I was well-nigh certain that some foul plot had been woven 
round him. 

" ' In this sinister way I came into my inlieritance. You will 
ask me why I did not dispose of it ? I answer because I was well 
convinced that our troubles were in some way dependent upon an 
incident in my uncle's life, and that the danger would be as pressing 
in one house as in another. 

" It was in January, '85, that my poor father met his end, and 

two years and eight 
months have elapsed 
since then. During 
that time I have lived 
happily at Horsham, 
and I had begun to 
hope that this curse 
had passed away from 
the family, and that 
it had ended with the 
last generation. I 
had begun to take 
comfort too soon,how- 
ever; yesterday morn- 
ing the blow fell in 
the very shape in 
which it had come 
upon my father.'* 

The young man 
took from his waist- 
coat a crumpled en- 
velope, and, turning to the table, he shook out upon it five little dried 
orange pips. 

" This is the envelope," he continued. '* The postmark is 
London — eastern division. Within are the very words which were 
upon my father's last message. ' K. K. K.' ; and then 'Put the 
papers on the sun-dial.' " 

** What have you done ? " asked Holmes. 

'' Nothing." 




" To tell the truth" — he sank his face into his thin, white hands 
— " I have felt helpless. I have felt like one of those poor rabbits 
when the snake is writhing towards it. I seem to be in the grasp 
of some resistless, inexorable evil, which no foresight and no precau- 
tions can guard against." 

*' Tut ! Tut ! " cried Sherlock Holmes. "You must act, man, 
or you are lost. Nothing but energy can save you. This is no 
time for despair." 

" I have seen the police." 


" But they listened to my story with a smile. I am convinced 
that the inspector has formed the opinion that the letters are all 
practical jokes, and that the deaths of my relations were really 
accidents, as the jury stated, and were not to be connected with the 

Holmes shook his clenched hands in the air. " Incredible 
imbecility ! " he cried. 

"They have, however, allowed me a policeman, who may remain 
in the house with me." 

" Has he come with you to-night ? " 

" No. His orders were to stay in the house. 

Again Holmes raved in the air. 

" Why did you come to me?" he said; "and, above all, why 
did you not come at once ? " 

" I did not know. It was only to-day that I spoke to Major 
Prendergast about my trouble, and was advised by him to come to 

" It is really two days since you had the letter. We should have 
acted before this. You have no further evidence, I suppose, than 
that which you have placed before us — no suggestive detail which 
might help us ? " 

" There is one thing," said John Openshaw. He rummaged in 
his coat pocket, and drawing out a piece of discoloured, blue-tinted 
paper, he laid it out upon the table. " I have some remembrance," 
said he, "that on the day when my uncle burned the papers I 
observed that the small, unburned margins which lay amid the 
ashes were of this particular colour. I found this single sheet upon 
the floor of his room, and I am inclined to think that it may be one 
of the papers which has, perhaps, fluttered out from among the 


others, and in that way have escaped destruction. Beyond the 
mention of pips, I do not see that it helps us much. I think myself 
that it is a page from some private diary. The writing is un- 
doubtedly my uncle's." 

Holmes moved the lamp, and we both bent over the sheet of 
paper, which showed by its ragged edge that it had indeed been 
torn from a book. It was headed, " March, 1869," and beneath 
were the following enigmatical notices : — 

" 4th. Hudson came. Same old platform. 

*' 7th. Set the pips on McCauley, Paramore, and John Swain of 
St Augustine. 

" gth. McCauley cleared. 

'* loth. John Swain cleared. 

" I2th. Visited Paramore. x^ll well." 

" Thank you ! " said Holmes, folding up the paper, and return- 
ing it to our visitor. *' And now you must on no account lose 
another instant. \Vc cannot spare time even to discuss what you 
have told me. You must get home instantl}^ and act." 

" What shall I do ? " 

*' There is but one thing to do. It must be done at once. You 
must put this piece of paper which you have shown us into the 
brass box which you have described. You must also put in a note 
to say that all the other papers were burned by your uncle, and 
that this is the only one which remains. You must assert that in 
such words as will carry conviction with them. Having done this, 
you must at once put the box out upon the sun-dial, as directed. 
Do you understand ? " 

** Entirely." 

"Do not think of revenge, or anything of the sort, at present. I 
think that we may gain that by means of the law ; but we have our 
web to weave, while theirs is already woven. The first considera- 
tion is to remove the pressing danger which threatens you. The 
second is to clear up the mystery, and to punish the guilty 

" I thank you," said the young man, rising, and pulling on his 
overcoat. " You have given me fresh life and hope. I shall 
certainly do as you advise." 

"Do not lose an instant. And, above all, take care of yourself 
in the meanwhile, for I do not think that there can be a doubt that 



you are threatened by a very real and imminent danger. How do 
you go back ? " 

**By train from Waterloo." 

** It is not yet nine. The streets will be crowded, so I trust 
that you may be in safety. And yet you cannot guard yourself too 

" I am armed." 

" That is well. To-morrow I shall set to work upon your case." 

" 1 shall see you at -^ ^^, 

Horsham, then ? " 

*' No, your secret 
lies in London. It is 
there that I shall seek 

*' Then I shall call 
upon you in a day, or 
in two days, with news 
as to the box and the 
papers. I shall take 
your advice in every 
particular." He shook 
hands with us, and took 
his leave. Outside the 
wind still screamed, and 
the rain splashed and 
pattered against the 
windows. This strange, 
wild story seemed to 
have come to us from 

amid the mad elements — blown in upon us like a sheet of sea- 
weed in a gale — and now to have been reabsorbed by them once 

Sherlock Holmes sat for some time in silence with his head sunk 
forward, and his eyes bent upon the red glow of the fire. Then he 
lit his pipe, and leaning back in his chair he watched the blue 
smoke rings as they chased each other up to the ceiling. 

** I think, Watson," he remarked at last, " that of all our cases 
we have had none more fantastic than this." 

** Save, perhaps, the Sign of Four." 



" Well, yes. Save, perhaps, that. And yet this John Openshaw 
seems to me to be walking amid even greater perils than did the 

*' But have you," I asked, *' formed any definite conception as 
to what these perils are ? " 

*' There can be no question as to their nature," he answered. 

** Then what are they ? Who is this K. K. K., and why does 
he pursue this unhappy family ? " 

Sherlock Holmes closed his eyes, and placed his elbows upon 
the arms of his chair, with his finger-tips together. " The ideal 
reasoner," he remarked, " would, when he has once been shown a 
single fact in all its bearings, deduce from it not only all the chain 
of events which led up to it, but also all the results which would 
follow from it. As Cuvier could correctly describe a whole animal 
by the contemplation of a single bone, so the observer who has 
thoroughly understood one link in a series of incidents, should be 
able to accurately state all the other ones, both before and after. 
We have not yet grasped the results which the reason alone can 
attain to. Problems may be solved in the study which have baffled 
all those who have sought a solution by the aid of their senses. To 
carry the art, however, to its highest pitch, it is necessary that the 
reasoner should be able to utilise all the facts which have come to 
his knowledge, and this in itself implies, as you will readily see, a 
possession of all knowledge, which, even in these days of free 
education and encyclopaedias, is a somewhat rare accomplishment. 
It is not so impossible, however, that a man should possess all 
knowledge which is likely to be useful to him in his work, and this 
I have endeavoured in my case to do. If I remember rightly, you 
on one occasion, in the early days of our friendship, defined my 
limits in a very precise fashion." 

"Yes," I answered, laughing. "It was a singular document. 
Philosophy, astronomy, and politics were marked_ at zero, I 
remember. Botany variable, geology profound as regards the mud 
stains from any region within fifty miles of town, chemistry 
eccentric, anatomy unsystematic, sensational literature and crime 
records unique, violin player, boxer, swordsman, lawyer, and self- 
poisoner by cucaine and tobacco. Those, I think, were the main 
points of my analysis." 

Holmes giinned at the last item. " Well," he said, " I say now, 


as I said then, that a man should keep his little brain attic stocked 
with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can 
put away in the lumber room of his library, where he can get it it 
he wants it. Now, for such a case as the one which has been sub- 
mitted to us to-night, we need certainly to muster all our resources. 
Kindly hand me down the letter K of the American Encyclopaedia 
which stands upon the shelf beside you. Thank you. Now let us 
consider the situation, and see what may be deduced from it. In 
the first place, we may start with a strong presumpiion that Colonel 
Openshaw had some very strong reason for leaving America. Men 
at his time of life do not change all their habits, and exchange 
willingly the charming climate of Florida for the lonely life of an 
English provincial town. His extreme love of solitude in England 
suggests the idea that he was in fear of some one or something, so 
we may assume as a working hypothesis that it was fear of some one 
or something which drove him from America. As to what it was 
he feared, we can only deduce that by considering the formidable 
letters which were received by himself and his successors. Did you 
remark the postmarks of those letters ? " 

" The first was from Pondicherry, the second from Dundee, and 
the third from London." 

■" From East London. What do vou deduce from that ? '* 

" They are all sea-ports. That the writer was on board a ship." 

"Excellent. We have already a clue. There can be no doubt 
that the probability — the strong probability — is that the writer was 
on board of a ship. And now let us consider another point. In 
the case of Pondicherry seven wrecks elapsed betvveen the threat 
and its fulfilment, in Dundee it was only some three or four days. 
Does that suggest anything ? " 

*' A greater distance to travel." 

*' But the letter had also a greater distance to come." 

*' Then I do not see the point." 

*' There is at least a presumption that the vessel in which the 
man or men are is a sailing ship. It looks as if they always sent 
their singular warning or token before them when starting upon 
their mission. You see how quickly the deed followed the sign 
when it came from Dundee. If they had come from Pondicherry in 
a steamer they would have arrived almost as soon as their letter. 
But as a matter of fact seven weeks elapsed. I think that those 


seven weeks represented the difference between the mail boat which 
brought the letter, and the sailing vessel which brought the writer." 

'' It is possible." 

" More than that. It is probable. And now you see the deadly 
urgency of this new case, and why I urged young Openshaw to 
caution. The blow has always fallen at the end of the time which 
it would take the senders to travel the distance. But this one 
comes from London, and therefore we cannot count upon delay." 

'* Good God ! " I cried. " What can it mean, this relentless 
persecution ? " 

" The papers which Openshaw carried are obviously of vital im- 
portance to the person or persons in the sailing ship. I think that 
it is quite clear that there must be more than one of them. A 
single man could not have carried out two deaths in such a way as 
to deceive a coroner's jury. There must have been several in it, 
and they must have been men of resource and determination. 
Their papers they mean to have, be the holder of them who it may. 
In this way you see K. K. K. ceases to be the initials of an 
individual, and becomes the badge of a society." 

" But of what society." 

*' Have you never — " said Sherlock Holmes, bending forward 
and sinking his voice — *' have you never heard of the Ku Klux 
Klan ? " 

" I never have." 

Holmes turned over the leaves of the book upon his knee. 
'■ Here it is," said he presently, " Ku Klux Klan. A name 
derived from a fanciful resemblance to the sound produced by 
cocking a rifle. This terrible secret society was formed by 
some ex-Confederate soldiers in the Southern States after the 
Civil War, and it rapidly formed local branches in different parts 
of the country, notably in Tennessee, Louisiana, the Carolinas, 
Georgia, and Florida. Its power was used for political purposes, 
principally for the terrorising of the negro voters, and the murdering 
or driving from the country of those who were opposed to its views. 
Its outrages were usually preceded by a warning sent to the marked 
man in some fantastic but generally recognised shape — a sprig of 
oak-leaves in some parts, melon seeds or orange pips in others. On 
receiving this the victim might either openly abjure his former ways, 
or might fly from the country. If he braved the matter out, death 


woald unfailingly come upon him, and usually in some strange and 
unforeseen manner. So perfect was the organisation of the society, 
and so systematic its methods, that there is hardly a case upon 
record where any man succeeded in braving it with impunity, or 
in which any of its outrages were traced home to the perpetrators. 
For some years the organisation flourished, in spite of the efforts of 
the United States Government, and of the better classes of the 
community in the South. Eventually, in the year 1869, the move- 
ment rather suddenly collapsed, although there have been sporadic 
outbreaks of the same sort since that date." 

** You will observe," said Holmes, laying down the volume, 
" that the sudden breaking up of the society was coincident with 
the disappearance of Openshaw from America with their papers. 
It may well have been cause and effect. It is no wonder that he 
and his family have some of the more implacable spirits upon their 
track. You can understand that this register and diary may impli- 
cate some of the first men in the South, and that there may be 
many who will not sleep easy at night until it is recovered." 

** Then the page which we have seen " 

** Is such as we might expect. It ran, if I remember right, 'sent 
the pips to A, B, and C,' — that is, sent the society's warning to 
them. Then there are successive entries that A and B cleared, or 
left the country, and finally that C was visited, with, I fear, a 
sinister result for C. Well, I think. Doctor, that we may let some 
light into this dark place, and I believe that the only chance young 
Openshaw has in the meantime is to do what I have told him. 
There is nothing more to be said or to be done to-night, so hand 
me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the 
miserable weather, and the still more miserable ways of our fellow 

It had cleared in the morning, and the sun was shining with a 
subdued brightness through the dim veil which hangs over the 
great city. Sherlock Holmes was already at breakfast when I came 

** You will excuse me for not waiting for you," said he ; "I 
have, I foresee, a very busy day before me in looking into this case 
of young Openshaw's." 

** What steps will you take ? " I asked. 



'* It will very much depend upon the results of my first inquiries. 
I may have to go down to Horsham after all." 

" You will not go there first ? " 

*' No, I shall commence with the City. Just ring the bell, and 
the maid will bring up your coffee." 

As I waited, I lifted the unopened newspaper from the table 
and glanced my eye over it. It rested upon a heading which sent a 
chill to my heart. 

" Holmes," I cried, ''you are too late." 


" Ah ! " said he, laying down his cup, " I feared as much. How 
was it done?" He spoke calmly, but I could see that he was 

deeply moved. 

" My eye caught the name of Openshaw, and the heading 
* Tragedy near Waterloo Bridge.' Here is the account : ' Between 
nine and ten last night Police-constable Cook, of the H Division, 
on duty near Waterloo Bridge, heard a cry for help and a splash in 
the water. The night, however, was extremely dark and stormy, so 
that, in spite of the help of several passers-by, it was quite im 


possible to effect a rescue. The alarm, however, was given, and, 
by the aid of the water police, the body was eventually recovered. 
It proved to be that of a young gentleman whose name, as it 
appears from an envelope which was found in his pocket, was John 
Openshaw, and whose residence is near Horsham. It is conjec- 
tured that he may have been hurrying down to catch the last train 
from Waterloo Station, and that in his haste and the extreme 
darkness, he missed his path, and walked over the edge of one of 
the small landing-places for river steamboats. The body exhibited 
no traces of violence, and there can be no doubt that the deceased 
had been the victim of an unfortunate accident, which should have 
the effect of calling the attention of the authorities to the condition 
of the riverside landing stages.' " 

We sat in silence for some minutes, Holmes more depressed and 
shaken than I had ever see him. 

"That hurts my pride, Watson," he said at last. " It is a petty 
feeling, no doubt, but it hurts my pride. It becomes a personal 
matter with me now, and, if God sends me health, I shall set my 
hand upon this gang. That he should come to me for help, and 

tiiat I should send him away to his death ! " He sprang from 

his chair, and paced about the room in uncontrollable agitation, 
with a flush upon his sallow cheeks, and a nervous clasping and 
unclasping of his long, thin hands. 

" They must be cunning devils," he exclaimed, at last. " How 
could they have decoyed him down there ? The Embankment is 
not on the direct line to the station. The bridge, no doubt, was too 
crowded, even on such a night, for their purpose. Well, Watson, 
we shall see who will win in the long run. I am going out 
now!" . 

" To the police ? " 
'* No ; I shall be my own police. When I have spun the web 
they may take the flies, but not before.'* 

All day I was engaged in my professional work, and it was late 
in the evening before I returned to Baker-street, Sherlock Holmes 
had not come back yet. It. was nearly ten o'clock before he 
entered, looking pale and worn. He walked up to the sideboard, 
and, tearing a piece from the loaf, he devoured it voraciousl3^ 
washing it down with a long draught of water. 

*' You are hungry," I remarked. 


" Starving. It had escaped my memory. I have had nothing 
since breakfast." 

" Nothing?" 

" Not a bite. I had no time to think of it." 

'* And how have you succeeded ? " 


*' You have a clue ? " 

''I have them in the hollow of my hand. Young Openshaw shall 
not long remain unavenged. Why, Watson, let us put their own 
devilish trade-mark upon them. It is well thought of! " 

*' What do you mean ? " 

He took an orange from the cupboard, and, tearing it to 
pieces, he squeezed out the pips upon the table. Of these he 
took live, and thrust them into an envelope. On the inside of 
the flap he wrote, " S. H. for J. O." Then he sealed it and ad- 
dressed it to "Captain James Calhoun, Barque Lone Star, Savannah, 

" That will await him when he enters port," said he, chuckling. 
" It may give him a sleepless night. He will find it as sure a 
precursor of his fate as Openshaw did before him." 

"And who is this Captain Calhoun? " 

" The leader of the gang. I shall have the others, but he first." 

" How did you trace it, then ? " 

He took a large sheet of paper from his pocket, all covered with 
dates and names. 

" I have spent the whole day," said he, "over Lloyd's registers 
and the files of the old papers, following the future career of every 
vessel which touched at Pondicherry in January and in February in 
'83. There were thirty-six ships of fair tonnage which were re- 
ported there during those months. Of these, one, the Lone Star^ 
instantly attracted my attention, since, although it was reported as 
having cleared from London, the name is that which is given to 
one of the States of the Union." 

" Texas, I think." 

" I was not and am not sure which ; but I knew that the ship 
must have an American origin." 
" What then ? " 

" I searched the Dundee records, and when I found that the 
barque Lone Star was there in January, '85, my suspicion became a 


certainty. I then inquired as to the vessels which lay at present in 
the port of London." 


" The hone Star had arrived here last week. I went down to 
the Albert Dock, and found that she had been taken down the river 
by the early tide this morning, homeward bound to Savannah. I 
wired to Gravesend, and learned that she had passed some time 
ago, and as the wind is easterly, I have no doubt that she is now 
past the Goodwins, and not very far from the Isle of Wight." 

" What will you do, then ? " 

*' Oh, I have my hand upon him. He and the two mates are, 
as I learn, the only native-born Americans in the ship. The others 
are Finns and Germans. I know also that they were all three away 
from the ship last night. I had it from the stevedore, who has 
been loading their cargo. By the time that their sailing ship 
reaches Savannah the mail-boat will have carried this letter, and 
the cable will have informed the police of Savannah that these 
three gentlemen are badly wanted here upon a charge of murder." 

There is ever a flaw, however, in the best laid of human plans, 
and the murderers of John Openshaw were never to receive the 
orange pips which would show them that another, as cunning and 
as resolute as themselves, was upon their track. Very long and 
very severe were the equinoctial gales that year. We waited long 
for news of the Lone Star of Savannah, but none ever reached us. 
We did at last hear that somewhere far out in the Atlantic, a 
shattered sternpost of a boat was seen swinging in the trough of a 
wave, with tlie letters " L. S." carved upon it, and that is all which 
we shall ever know of the fate of the Lone Star. 



,^MSA WHITNEY, brother of the late Elias Whitney, 
^^^ D.D., Principal of the Theological College of St. 
George's, was much addicted to opium. The habit 
grew upon him, as 1 understand, from some foolish 
freak when he was at college, for having read De 
Quincey's description of his dreams and sensations, he had drenched 
his tobacco with laudanum in an attempt to produce the same 
effects. He found, as so many more have done, that the practice 
is easier to attain than to get rid of, and for many years he con- 
tinued to be a slave to the drug, an object of mingled horror and 
pity to his friends and relatives. I can see him now, with yellow, 
pasty face, drooping lids and pin-point pupils, all huddled in a chair, 
the wreck and ruin of a noble man. 

One night— it was in June, '89— there came a ring to my bell, 
about the hour when a man gives his first yawn, and glances at 
the clock. I sat up in my chair, and my wife laid her needlework 
down in her lap and made a little face of disappointment. 
" A patient 1 " said she. " You'll have to go out." 
I groaned, for I was newly come back from a weary day. 
We heard the door open, a few hurried words, and then quick 
steps upon the linoleum. Our own door flew open, and a lady, clad 
in some dark-coloured stuff, with a black veil, entered the room. 

"You will excuse my calling so late," she began, and then, 
suddenly losing her self-control, she ran forward, threw her arms 
about my wife's neck, and sobbed upon her shoulder. " Oh ! I'm 
in euch trouble 1 " she cried ; " I do so want a little help." 

" Why," said my wife, pulling up her veil, "it is Kate Whitney. 
How you startled me, Kate! I had not an idea who you were when 

you came in." 

*' I didn't know what to do, so I came straight to you." That 



was always the way. Folk who were in ^rief came to my wife like 
birds to a lighthouse. 

" It was very sweet of you to come. Now, you must have some 
wine and water, and sit here comfortably and tell us all about it. 
Or should you rather that I sent James off to bed ? " 

** Oh, no, no. I want the Doctor's advice and help too. It's 
about Isa. He has not been home for two days. I am so frightened 
about him ! " 

It was not the first time that she had spoken to us of her 
husband's trouble, to me as a doctor, to my wife as an old friend 
and school companion. We soothed and comforted her b}' such 
words as we could find. Did she know where her husband was ? 
Was it possible that \ve could bring him back to her ? 

It seemed that it was. She had the surest information that of 
late he had, when the fit was on him, made use of an opium den in 
the furthest east of the City. Hitherto his orgies had always been 
confined to one day, and he had come back, twitching and shattered, 
in the evening. But now the spell had been upon him eight-and- 
forty hours, and he lay there, doubtless, among the dregs of the 
docks, breathing in the poison or sleeping off the effects. There 
he was to be found, she was sure of it, at the *' Bar of Gold," in 
Upper Swandam-lane. But w^hat was she to do? How could 
she, a young and timid woman, make her way into such a place, 
and pluck her husband out from among the ruffians who surrounded 
him ? 

There was the case, and of course there was but one way out of 
it. Might I not escort her to this place? And, then, as a second 
thought, why should she come at all ? I was Isa Whitney's 
medical adviser, and as such I had influence over him. I could 
manage it better if I were alone. I promised her on my word that 
I would send him home in a cab within two hours if he were indeed 
at the address which she had given me. And so in ten minutes I 
had left my armchair and cheery sitting-room behind me, and was 
speeding eastward in a hansom on a strange errand, as it seemed 
to me at the time, though the future only could show how strange 
it was to be. 

But there was no great difficulty in the first stage of my ad- 
venture. Upper Swandam-lane is a vile alley lurking behind the 
high wharves which line the north side of the river to the east of 




London Bridge. Between a slop shop and a gin shop, approached 
by a steep flight of steps leading down to a black gap like the mouth 
of a cave, I found the den of which I was in search. Ordering my 
cab to wait, I passed down the steps, worn hollow in the centre by 
the ceaseless tread of drunken feet, and by the light of a flickering 
oil lamp above the door I found the latch and made my way into a 
long, low room, thick and heavy with the brown opium smoke, and 

terraced with 

. ,^ wooden berths, 

, . like the forecastle 

of an emigrant 

Through the 
gloom one could 
dimly catch a 
glimpse of bodies 
lying in strange 
fantastic poses, 
bowed shoulders, 
bent knees, heads 
thrown back and 
chins pointingup- 
wards, with here 
and there a dark, 
lack - lustre eye 
^ turned upon the 
new-comer. Out 
of the black 
shadows there 
glimmered little 
red circles of light, now bright, now faint, as the burning poison 
waxed or waned in the bowls of the metal pipes. The most lay 
silent, but some muttered to themselves, and others talked together 
in a strange, low, monotonous voice, their conversation coming in 
gushes, and then suddenly tailing off into silence, each mumbling 
out his own thoughts, and paying little heed to the words of 
his neighbour. At the further end was a small brazier of burning 
charcoal, beside which on a three-legged wooden stool there sat a 
tall, thin old man, with his jaw resting upon his two fists, and his 
elbows upon his knees, staring into the fire. 



As I entered, a sallow Malay attendant had hurried up with a 
pipe for me and a supply of the drug, beckoning me to an empty 

" Thank you, I have not come to stay," said I. " There is a 
friend of mine here, Mr. Isa Whitney, and I wish to speak with 

There was a movement and an exclamation from my right, and, 
peering through the gloom, I saw Whitney, pale, haggard, and 
unkempt, staring out at me. 

'* My God ! It's Watson," said he. He was in a pitiable state 
of reaction, with every nerve in a twitter. *' I say, Watson, what 
o'clock is it ? " 

*' Nearly eleven." 

" Of what day ? " 

•'' Of Friday, June 19." 

'' Good heavens ! I thought it was Wednesday. It is Wednesday. 
What d'you want to frighten a chap for ? " He sank his face on to 
his arms, and bec;an to sob in a high treble key. 

" I tell you that it is Friday, man. Your wife has been waiting 
this two days for you. You should be ashamed of yourself ! " 

*' So I am. But you've got mixed, Watson, for I have only been 
here a few hours, three pipes, four pipes — I forget how many. But 
I'll go home with you. I wouldn't frighten Kate — poor little Kate. 
Give me your hand ! Have you a cab ? " 

*' Yes, I have one waiting." 

" Then I shall go in it. But I must owe something. Find what 
I owe, Watson. I am all off colour. I can do nothing for myself." 

" I walked down the narrow passage between the double row of 
sleepers, holding my breath to keep out the vile, stupefying fumes 
of the drug, and looking about for the manager. As I passed the 
tall man who sat by the brazier I felt a sudden pluck at my skirt, 
and a low voice whispered, " Walk past me, and then look back at 
me." The words fell quite distinctly upon my ear. I glanced down. 
They could only have come from the old man at my side, and yet he 
sat now as absorbed as ever, very thin, very wrinkled, bent with 
age, an opium pipe dangling down from between his knees, as 
though it had dropped in sheer lassitude from his fingers. I took 
two steps forward and looked back. It took all my self-control to 
prevent me from breaking out into a cry of astonishment. He had 



turned his back so that none could see him but I. His form had 
filled out, his wrinkles were gone, the dull eyes had regained their 
fire, and there, sitting by the fire, and grinning at my surprise, was 
none other than Sherlock Holmes. He made a slight motion to me 
to approach him, and instantly, as he turned his face half round to 
the company once more, subsided into a doddering, loose-lipped 

holmes!' I WHISrERED." 

*' Holmes!" I whispered, ''what on earth are you doing in this 

*' As low as you can," he answered, ** I have excellent ears. If 
you would have the great kindness to get rid of that sottish friend 
of yours I should be exceedingly glad to have a little talk with you." 

*' I have a cab outside." 

** Then pray send him home in it. You may safely trust him, 


for he appears to be too limp to get into any mischief. I should 
recommend you also to send a note by the cabman to your wife to 
say that you have thrown in your lot with me. If you will wait 
outside, I shall be with you in live minutes." 

It was difficult to refuse any of Sherlock Holmes' requests, for 
they were always so exceedingly definite, and put forward with such 
a quiet air of mastery. I felt, however, that when Whitney was 
once confined in the cab, my mission was practically accomplished ; 
and for the rest, I could not wish anything better than to be 
associated with my friend in one of those singular adventures 
which were the normal condition of his existence. In a few minutes 
I had written my note, paid Whitney's bill, led him out to the cab, 
and seen him driven through the darkness. In a very short time a 
decrepit figure had emerged from the opium den, and I was walking 
down the street with Sherlock Holmes. For two streets he shuffled 
along with a bent back and an uncertain foot. Then glancing 
quickly round, he straightened himself out and burst into a hearty 
fit of laughter. 

'* I suppose, Watson," said he, "that you imagine that I have 
added opium-smoking to cucaine injections and all the other little 
weaknesses on which you have favoured me with your medical 

" I was certainly surprised to find you there." 

" But not more so than I to find you." 

" I came to find a friend." 

"And I to find an enemy." 

" An enemy ? " 

"Yes, one of my natural enemies, or sliall I say, my natural prey. 
Briefly, Watson, I am in the midst of a very remarkable inquiry, 
and I have hoped to find a clue in the incoherent ramblings of these 
sots, as I have done before now. Had I been recognised in that 
den my life would not have been worth an hour's purchase, for I 
have used it before now for my own purposes, and the rascally 
Lascar who runs it has sworn vengeance upon me. There is a 
trap-door at the back of that building, near the corner of Paul's 
Wharf, which could tell some strange tales of what has passed 
through it upon the moonless nights." 

"What! You do not mean bodies?" 

"Aye, bodies, Watson. We should be rich men if we had a 



thousand pounds for every poor devil who has been done to death 
in that den. It is the vilest murder-trap on the whole river-side, 
and I fear that Neville St. Clair has entered it never to leave it 
more. But our trap should be here ! " He put his two fore-fingers 
between his teeth and whistled shrilly, a signal which was answered 
by a similar whistle from the distance, followed shortly by the rattle 
of wheels and the clink of horses' hoofs." 

"Now, Wat- 
son," said 
Holmes, as a 
tall dog - cart 
dashed up 
through the 
gloom, throwing 
out two golden 
tunnels of yellow 
light from its 
" you'll come 
with me, won't 




** If I can be 
of use." 

**0h, a trusty 
comrade is al- 
ways of use. And 
a chronicler still 
more so. My 
room at The 
Cedars is a 

double-bedded one. ^ 

''The Cedars?" 

**Yes; that is Mr. St. Clair's house. I am staying there while 
I conduct the inquiry." 

** Where is it, then ? " 

" Near Lee, in Kent. We have a seven-mile drive before us." 

*' But I am all in the dark." 

*' Of course you are. You'll know all about it presently. Jump 
up here ! All right, John, we shall not need you. Here's half-a- 


crown. Look out for me to-morrow, about eleven. Give her her 
head ! So long, then ! '* 

He flicked the horse with his whip, and we dashed away through 
the endless succession of sombre and deserted streets, which widened 
gradually, until we were flying across a broad balustraded bridge, 
with the murky river flowing sluggishly beneath us. Beyond lay 
another broad wilderness of bricks and mortar, its silence broken 
only by the heavy, regular footfall of the policeman, or the songs 
and shouts of some belated party of revellers. A dull wrack was 
drifting slowly across the sky, and a star or two twinkled dimly 
here and there through the rifts of the clouds. Holmes drove in 
silence, with his head sunk upon his breast, and the air of a man 
who is lost in thought, whilst I sat beside him curious to learn 
what this new quest might be which seemed to tax his powers so 
sorely, and yet afraid to break in upon the current of his thoughts. 
We had driven several miles, and were beginning to get to the fringe 
of the belt of suburban villas, when he shook himself, shrugged his 
shoulders, and lit up his pipe with the air of a man who has satis- 
fied himself that he is acting for the best. 

*' You have a grand gift of silence, Watson," said he. " It 
makes you quite invaluable as a companion. 'Pon my word, it 
is a great thing for me to have some one to talk to, for my own 
thoughts are not over-pleasant. I was wondering what I should say 
to this dear little woman to-night when she meets me at the door." 

** You forget that I know nothing about it." 

*' I shall just have time to tell you the facts of the case before 
we get to Lee. It seems absurdly simple, and yet, somehow, I 
can get nothing to go upon. There's plenty of thread, no doubt, 
but I can't get the end of it in my hand. Now, I'll state the case 
clearly and concisely to you, Watson, and maybe you may see 
a spark where all is dark to me." 

'' Proceed then." 

" Some years ago — to be definite, in May, 1884 — there came to 
Lee a gentleman, Neville St. Clair by name, who appeared to have 
plenty of money. He took a large villa, laid out the grounds very 
nicely, and lived generally in good style. By degrees he made 
friends in the neighbourhood, and in 1887 he married the daughter 
of a local brewer, by whom he has now had two children. He 
had no occupation, but was interested in several companies, and 


went into town as a rule in the morning, returning by the 5.14 
from Cannon-street every night. Mr. St. Clair is now 37 years 
of age, is a man of temperate habits, a good husband, a very 
affectionate father, and a man who is popular with all who know 
him. I may add that his whole debts at the present moment, as 
far as we have been able to ascertain, amount to ;£'88 los., while 
he has £^220 standing to his credit in the Capital and Counties 
Bank. There is no reason, therefore, to think that money troubles 
have been weighing upon his mind. 

" Last Monday Mr. Neville St. Clair went into town rather 
earlier than usual, remarking before he started that he had two 
important commissions to perform, and that he would bring his 
little boy home a box of bricks. Now, by the merest chance his 
wife received a telegram upon this same Monday, very shortly 
after his departure, to the effect that a small parcel of considerable 
value which she had been expecting was waiting for her at the 
offices of the Aberdeen Shipping Compan}-. Now, if you are well 
up in your London, you will know that the office of the company 
is in Fresno-street, which branches out of Upper Swandam-lane, 
where you found me to-night. Mrs. St. Clair had her lunch, 
started for the City, did some shopping, proceeded to the com- 
pany's office, got her packet, and found herself exactly at 4.35 
walking through Swandam-lane on her way back to the station. 
Have you followed me so far ? " . 

*' It is very clear." 

*' If you remember, Monday was an exceedingly hot day, and 
Mrs. St. Clair walked slowly, glancing about in the hope of seeing 
a cab, as she did not like the neighbourhood in which she found 
herself. While she walked in this way down Swandam-lane she 
suddenly heard an ejaculation or cry, and was struck cold to see 
her husband looking down at her, and, as it seemed to her, 
beckoning to her from a second-floor window. The window was 
open, and she distinctly saw his face, which she describes as being 
terribly agitated. He waved his hands frantically to her, and 
then vanished from the window so suddenly that it seemed to 
her that he had been plucked back by some irresistible force from 
behind. One singular point which struck her quick feminine eye 
was that, although he wore some dark coat, such as he had started 
to town in, he had on neither collar nor necktie. 



** Convinced that something was amiss with him, she rushed 
down the steps — for the house was none other than the opium 
den in which you found me to-night — and, running through the 
front room, she attempted to ascend the stairs which led to the 
first floor. At the 
foot of the stairs, 
however, she met 
this Lascar scoun- 
drel of whom I 
have spoken, who 
thrust her back, 
and, aided by a 
Dane, who acts as 
assistant there, 
pushed her out 
into the street. 
Filled with the 
most maddening 
doubts and fears, 
she rushed down 
the lane, and, by 
rare good fortune, 
met, in Fresno- 
street, a number of 
constables with an 
inspector, all on 
their way to their 
beat. The inspector 
and two men ac- 
companied her 
back, and, in spite 
of the continued 
resistance of the 
proprietor, they 
made their way to 

the room in which Mr. St. Clair had last been seen. There was 
no sign of him there. In fact, in the whole of that floor there was 
no one to be found, save a crippled wretch of hideous aspect, who, 
it seems, made his home there. Both he and the Lascar stoutly 



swore that no one else had been in the front room during the 
afternoon. So determined was their denial that the inspector was 
staggered, and had almost come to believe that Mrs. St. Clair had 
been deluded when, with a cry, she sprang at a small deal box which 
lay upon the table, and tore the lid from it. Out there fell a 
cascade of children's bricks. It was the toy which he had promised 
to bring home. 

" This discovery, and the evident confusion which the cripple 
showed, made the inspector realise that the matter was serious. 
The rooms were carefully examined, and results all pointed to 
an abominable crime. The front room was plainly furnished as 
a sitting-room, and led into a small bedroom, which looked out 
upon the back of one of the wharves. Between the wharf and the 
bedroom window is a narrow strip, which is dry at low tide, but 
is covered at high tide with at least four and a half feet of water. 
The bedroom window was a broad one, and opened from below. 
On examination traces of blood were to be seen upon the window 
sill, and several scattered drops were visible upon the wooden 
floor of the bedroom. Thrust away behind a curtain in the 
front room were all the clothes of Mr. Neville St. Clair, with the 
exception of his coat. His boots, his socks, his hat, and his watch 
— all were there. There were no signs of violence upon any of 
these garments, and there were no other traces of Mr. Neville St. 
Clair. Out of the window he must apparently have gone, for no 
other exit could be discovered, and the ominous bloodstains upon 
the sill gave little promise that he could save himself by swimming, 
for the tide was at its very highest at the moment of the tragedy. 

" And now as to the villains who seemed to be immediately 
implicated in the matter. The Lascar was known to be a man 
of the vilest antecedents, but as by Mrs. St. Clair's story he was 
known to have been at the foot of the stair within a few seconds 
of her husband's appearance at the window, he could hardly have 
been more than an accessory to the crime. His defence was one 
of absolute ignorance, and he protested that he had no knowledge 
as to the doings of Hugh Boone, his lodger, and that he could 
not account in any way for the presence of the missing gentleman's 

" So much for the Lascar manager. Now for the sinister 
cripple who lives upon the second floor of the opium den, and 



who was certainly the last human being whose eyes rested upon 
Neville St. Clair. His name is Hugh Boone, and his hideous 
face is one which is familiar to every man who goes much to the 
City. He is a professional beggar, though in order to avoid the 
police regulations he pretends to a small trade in wax vestas. 
Some little distance down Threadneedle-street upon the left hand 
side there is, as you may .have remarked, a small angle in the 
wall. Here it is ^^ 

that the creature 
takes his dailyseat, 
cross-legged, with 
his tiny stock of 
matches on his 
lap, and as he is a 
piteous spectacle a 
small rain of 
charity descends 
into the greasy 
leather cap which 
lies upon the pave- 
ment before him. 
I have watched 
this fellow more 
than once, before 
ever I thought of 
making his profes- 
sional acquaint- 
ance, and I have 
been surprised at 
the harvest which 
he has reaped in a 
short time. His appearance, you see, is so remarkable, that no one 
can pass him without observing him. A shock of orange hair, a 
pale face disfigured by a horrible scar, which, by its contraction, 
has turned up the outer edge of his upper lip, a bull-dog chin, 
and a pair of very penetrating dark eyes, which present a singular 
contrast to the colour of his hair, all mark him out from amid the 
common crowd of mendicants, and so, too, does his wit, for he is 
ever ready with a reply to any piece of chaff which may be thrown 



at him by the passers-by. This is the man whom we now learn 
to have been the lodger at the opium den, and to have been the 
last man to see the gentleman of whom we are in quest." 

** But a cripple!" said I. "What could he have done single- 
handed against a man in the prime of life ? " 

'' He is a cripple in the sense that he walks with a limp ; but, 
in other respects, he appears to be a powerful and well-nurtured 
man. Surely your medical experience w^ould tell you, Watson, 
that weakness in one limb is often compensated for b}^ exceptional 
strength in the others." 

" Pray continue your narrative." 

*' Mrs. St. Clair had fainted at the sight of the blood upon the 
window, and she was escorted home in a cab by the police, as 
her presence could be of no help to them in their investigations. 
Inspector Barton, who had charge of the case, made a very careful 
examination of the premises, but without finding anything which 
threw any light upon the matter. One m.istake had been made 
in not arresting Boone instantly, as he was allowed some few 
minutes during which he might have communicated with his 
friend the Lascar, but this fault was soon remedied, and he was 
seized and searched, without anything being found which could 
incriminate him. There w^ere, it is true, some bloodstains upon 
his right shirt-sleeve, but he pointed to his ring finger, which had 
been cut near the nail, and explained that the bleeding came from 
there, adding that he had been to the window not long before, 
and that the stains which had been observed there came doubtless 
from the same source. He denied strenuously having ever seen 
Mr. Neville St. Clair, and swore that the presence of the clothes 
in his room was as much a mystery to him as to the police. As 
to Mrs. St. Clair's assertion that she had actually seen her husband 
at the window, he declared that she must have been either mad 
or dreaming. He was removed, loudly protesting, to the police 
station, while the inspector remained upon the premises in the 
hope that the ebbing tide might afford some fresh clue^ 

" And it did, though they hardly found upon the mudbank 
what they had feared to find. It was Neville St. Clair's coat, 
and not Neville St. Clair, which lay uncovered as the tide receded. 
And what do you think they found in the pockets ? " 

*' I cannot imagine.' 


" No, I don't think you will guess. Every pocket stuffed with 
pennies and halfpennies — four hundred and twenty-one pennies, 
and two hundred and seventy halfpennies. It was no wonder that 
it had not been swept away by the tide. But a human body is 
a different matter. There is a fierce eddy between the wharf and 
the house. It seemed likely enough that the weighted coat had re- 
mained when the stripped body had been sucked away into the river." 

" But I understand that all the other clothes were found in the 
room. Would the body be dressed in a coat alone ? " 

*' No, sir, but the facts might be met speciously enough. 
Suppose that this man Boone had thrust Neville St. Clair through 
the window, there is no human eye which could have seen the 
deed. What would he do then ? It would of course instantly 
strike him that he must get rid of the tell-tale garments. He 
would seize the coat then, and be in the act of throwing it out 
when it would occur to him that it would swim and not sink. 
He has little time, for he has heard the scuffle downstairs when 
the wife tried to force her way up, and perhaps he has already 
heard from his Lascar confederate that the police are hurrying 
up the street. There is not an instant to be lost. He rushes to 
some secret horde, where he has accumulated the fruits of his 
beggary, and he stuffs all the coins upon which he can lay his 
hands into the pockets to make sure of the coat's sinking. He 
throws it out, and would have done the same with the other 
garments had not he heard the rush of steps below, and only just 
had time to close the window when the police appeared." 

" It certainly sounds feasible." 

*' W^ell, we will take it as a working hypothesis for want of a 
better. Boone, as I have told you, was arrested and taken to the 
station, but it could not be shown that there had ever before been 
anything against him. He had for years been known as a pro- 
fessional beggar, but his life appeared to have been a very quiet 
and innocent one. There the matter stands at present, and the 
questions which have to be solved, what Neville St. Clair was 
doing in the opium den, what happened to him when there, where 
is he now, and what Hugh Boone had to do with his disappearance, 
are all as far from a solution as ever. I confess that I cannot 
recall any case within my experience which looked at the first 
glance so simple, and yet which presented such difficulties," 



Whilst Sherlock Holmes had been detailing this singular series 
of events we had been whirling through the outskirts of the great 
town until the last straggling houses had been left behind, and we 
rattled along with a country hedge upon either side of us. Just 
as he finished, however, we drove through two scattered villages, 
where a few lights still glimmered in the windows. 

** We are on the out- 
skirts of Lee," said my 
companion. " We have 
touched on three English 
counties in our short 
drive, starting in Middle- 
sex, passing over 
an angle of Surrey, 
and ending in 
Kent. See that 
light among the 
trees ? That is 
The Cedars, and 
beside that lamp 
sits a woman 
whose anxious 
ears have already, 
I havelittle doubt, 
caught the clink 
of our horse's 

"But why are 
you not conduct- 
ing the case from *< 
Baker-street ? " I 

" Because there are many inquiries which must be made out 
here. Mrs. St. Clair has most kindly put two rooms at my 
disposal, and you may rest assured that she will have nothing 
but a welcome for my friend and colleague. I hate to meet her, 
Watson, when I have no news of her husband. Here we are. 
Whoa, there, whoa ! " 

We had pulled up in front of a large villa which stood within its 



own grounds. A stable-boy had run out to the horse's head, and, 
springing down, I followed Holmes up the small, winding gravel 
drive which led to the house. As we approached, the door flew 
open, and a little blonde woman stood in the opening, clad in some 
sort of light mousseline de soie, with a touch of fluffy pink chiffon 
at her neck and wrists. She stood with her figure outlined against 
the flood of light, one hand upon the door, one half raised in eager- 
ness, her body slightly bent, her head and face protruded, with 
eager eyes and parted lips, a standing question. 

"Well?" she cried, "well?" And then, seeing that there 
were two of us, she gave a cry of hope which sank into a groan 
as she saw that my companion shook his head and shrugged his 

" No good news ? " 
" No bad ? •' 
" No." 

" Thank God for that. But com3 in. You must be weary, for 
you have had a long day." 

" This is my friend, Dr. Watson. He has been of most vital 
use to me in several of my cases, and a lucky chance has made 
it possible for me to bring him out and associate him with this 

" I am delighted to see you," said she, pressing my hand warmly. 
"You will, I am sure, forgive anything which may be wanting in 
our arrangements, when you consider the blow which has come so 
suddenly upon us." 

" My dear madam," said I, " I am an old campaigner, and if I 
were not, I can very well see that no apology is needed. If I can 
be of any assistance, either to you or my friend here, I shall be 
indeed happy." 

"Now, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said the lady, as we entered a 
well-lit dining-room, upon the table of which a cold supper had been 
laid out, " I should very much like to ask you one or two plain 
questions, to which I beg that you will give a plain answer." 
" Certainly, madam." 

*' Do not trouble about my feelings. I am not hysterical, nor 
given to fainting. I simply wish to hear your real, real opinion." 
" Upon what point ? " 



" In your heart of hearts, do \'ou think that Neville is alive ? " 

Sherlock Holmes seemed to be embarrassed by the question. 
" Frankly now! " she repeated, standing upon the rug, and looking 
keenly down at him, as he leaned back in a basket chair. 

" Frankly then, madam, I do not." 

" You think that he is dead ? " 

" I do." 

" Murdered ? " 


" I don't say that. Perhaps." 

" And on what day did he meet his death ? " 

*'0n Monday." 

*'Then perhaps, Mr. Holmes, you will be good enough to 
explain how it is that I have received this letter from him 
to-day ? " 

Sherlock Holmes sprang out of his chair as if he had been 

''What!" he roared. 


'* Yes, to-day." She stood smiling, holding up a little slip of 
paper in the air. 

" May I see it ? " 

" Certainly." 

He snatched it from her in his eagerness, and smoothing it out 
upon the table, he drew over the lamp, and examined it intently. I 
had left my chair, and was gazing at it over his shoulder. The 
envelope was a very coarse one, and was stamped with the 
Gravesend post-mark, and with the date of that very day, or 
rather of the day before, for it was considerably after midnight. 

"Coarse writing!" murmured Holmes. "Surely this is not 
your husband's writing, madam." 

" No, but the enclosure is." 

" I perceive also that whoever addressed the envelope had to go 
and inquire as to the address." 

" How can you tell that ? " 

"The name, you see, is in perfectly black ink, which has dried 
itself. The rest is of the greyish colour v/hich shows that blotting- 
paper has been used. If it had been written straight off, and then 
blotted, none would be of a deep black shade. This man has 
written the name, and there has then been a pause before he wrote 
the address, which can only mean that he was not familiar with it. 
It is, of course, a trifle, but there is nothing so important as trifles. 
Let us now see the letter ! Ha ! there has been an enclosure 
here ! " 

" Yes, there was a ring. His signet ring." 

" And you are sure that this is your husband's hand } " 

" One of his hands." 


" His hand when he wrote hurriedly. It is very unlike his usual 
writing, and yet I know it well." 

" ' Dearest, do not be frightened. All will come well. There is 
a huge error which it may take some little time to rectify. Wait 
in patience. — Neville.' Written in pencil upon the fly-leaf of a book, 
octavo size, no watermark. Hum ! Posted to-day in Gravesend by 
a man with a dirty thumb. Ha! And the flap has been gummed, 
if I am not very much in error, by a person who had been chewing 
tobacco. And you have no doubt that it is your husband's hand, 
madam ? " 



" None. Neville wrote those words." 

*' And they were posted to-day at Gravesend. Well, Mrs. St. 
Clair, the clouds lighten, though I should not venture to say that 
the danger is over." 

" But he must be alive, Mr. Holmes." 

*' Unless this is a clever forgery to put us on the wrong scent. 
The ring, after all, proves nothing. It may have been taken from 

** No, no ; it is, it is, it is his very own writing ! " 

" Very well. It may, however, have been written on Monday, 
and only posted to-day." 

*' That is possible." 

'' If so, much may have happened between." 

" Oh, you must not discourage me, Mr. Holmes. I know that 
all is well with him. There is so keen a sympathy between us that 
I should know if evil came upon him. On the very day that I saw 
him last he cut himself in the bedroom, and yet I in the dining- 
room rushed upstairs instantly with the utmost certainty that some- 
thing had happened. Do you think that I would respond to such a 
trifle, and yet be ignorant of his death ? " 

'* I have seen too much not to know that the impression of a 
woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analytical 
reasoner. And in this letter you certainly have a very strong piece 
of evidence to corroborate your view. But if your husband is alive 
and able to write letters, why should he remain away from you ? " 

*'I cannot imagine. It is unthinkable." 

** And on Monday he made no remarks before leaving you ? " 

'' No." 

" And you were surprised to see him in Swandam-lane ? " 

" Very much so." 

'* Was the window open ? " 


" Then he might have called to you ? " 

" He might." 

" He only, as I understand, gave an inarticulate cry ? '^ 

" Yes." 

*' A call for help, you thought ? " 

" Yes. He waved his hands." 

" But it might have been a cry of surprise. Astonishment at 


the unexpected sight of you might cause him to throw up his 

" It is possible." 

*' And you thought he was pulled back." 

** He disappeared so suddenly." 

" He might have leaped back. You did not see any one else 
in the room ? " 

" No, but this horrible man confessed to having been there, and 
the Lascar was at the foot of the stairs." 

" Quite so. Your husband, as far as you could see, had his 
ordinary clothes on ? " 

'* But without his collar or tie. I distinctly saw his bare 

" Had he ever spoken of Swandam-lane ? " 

" Never." 

" Had he ever shown any signs of having taken opium ? " 


" Thank you, Mrs. St. Clair. Those are the principal points 
about which I wished to be absolutely clear. We shall now have 
a little supper and then retire, for we may have a very busy day 

A large and comfortable double-bedded room had been placed at 
our disposal, and I was quickly between the sheets, for I was weary 
after my night of adventure. Sherlock Holmes was a man, how- 
ever, who when he had an unsolved problem upon his mind would 
go for days, and even for a week, without rest, turning it over, 
rearranging his facts, looking at it from every point of view, until he 
had either fathomed it, or convinced himself that his data were 
insufficient. It was soon evident to me that he was now preparing 
for an all-night sitting. He took off his coat and waistcoat, put on 
a large blue dressing-gown, and then wandered about the room 
collecting pillows from his bed, and cushions from the sofa and 
armchairs. With these he constructed a sort of Eastern divan, 
upon which he perched himself cross-legged, with an ounce of shag 
tobacco and a box of matches laid out in front of him. In the 
dim light of the lamp I saw him sitting there, an old brier pipe 
between his lips, his eyes fixed vacantly upon the corner of the 
ceiling, the blue smoke curling up from him, silent, motionless, with 
the light shining upon his strong set aquiline features. So he sat 



as I dropped off to sleep, and so he sat when a sudden ejaculation 
caused me to wake up, and I found the summer sun shining into 
the apartment. The pipe was still between his lips, the smoke 
still curled upwards, and the room was full of a dense tobacco haze, 
but nothing remained of the heap of shag which I had seen upon 
the previous night. 

** Awake, Watson ? " he asked. 

•' Yes." 

? \ 

"THE nrE was still between his Lirs.' 

** Game for a morning drive ? " 

•' Certainly." 

" Then dress. No one is stirring yet, but I know where the 
stable-boy sleeps, and we shall soon have the trap out." He 
chuckled to himself as he spoke, his eyes twinkled, and he seemed 
a different man to the sombre thinker of the previous night. 

As I dressed I glanced at my watch. It was no wonder that 
no ont was stirring. It was twenty-five minutes past four. I had 


hardly finished when Holmes returned with the news that the 
boy was putting in the horse. 

" I want to test a little theory of mine," said he, pulling on his 
boots. *' I think, Watson, that you are now standing in the 
presence of one of the most absolute fools in Europe. I deserve 
to be kicked from here to Charing-cross. But I think I have the 
key of the affair now." 

''And where is it ? " I asked, smiling. 

" In the bath-room," he answered. '' Oh, yes, I am not joking," 
he continued, seeing my look of incredulity. " I have just been 
there, and I have taken it out, and I have got it in this Glad- 
stone bag. Come on, my boy, and we shall see v/hether it will not 
fit the lock." 

We made our way downstairs as quietly as possible ; and out 
into the bright morning sunshine. In the road stood our horse and 
trap, with the half-clad stable-boy waiting at the head. We both 
sprang in, and away we dashed down the London-road. A few 
country carts were stirring, bearing in vegetables to the metropolis, 
but the lines of villas on either side were as silent and lifeless as 
some city in a dream. 

" It has been in some points a singular case," said Holmes, 
flicking the horse on into a gallop. *' I confess that I have been as 
blind as a mole, but it is better to learn wisdom late, than never 
to learn it at all." 

In town, the earliest risers were just beginning to look sleepily 
from their windows as we drove through the streets of the Surrey 
side. Passing down the Waterloo Bridge-road we crossed over the 
river, and dashing up Wellington-street wheeled sharply to the 
right, and found ourselves in Bow- street. Sherlock Holmes was 
well known to the Force, and the two constables at the door 
saluted him. One of them held the horse's head while the other 
led us in. 

*' Who is on duty ? " asked Holmes. 

*' Inspector Bradstreet, sir." 

"Ah, Bradstreet, how are you ? " A tall, stout official had come 
down the stone-flagged passage, in a peaked cap and frogged jacket. 
** I wish to have a word with you, Bradstreet." 

*' Certainly, Mr. Holmes. Step into my room here." 

It was a small office-like room., with a huge ledger upon the 


table, and a telephone projecting from the wall. The inspector sat 
down at his desk. 

*' What can I do for you, Mr. Holmes ? " 

** I called about that beggarman, Boone — the one who was 
charged with being concerned in the disappearance of Mr. Neville 
St. Clair, of Lee." 

" Yes. He was brought up and remanded for further inquiries." 

'■ So I heard. You have him here ? " 

" In the cells." 

*'Is he quiet?" 

" Oh, he gives no trouble. But he is a dirty scoundrel." 


" Yes, it is all we can do to make him wash his hands, and his 
face is as black as a tinker's. Well, when once his case has been 
settled he will have a regular prison bath ; and I think, if you saw 
him, you would agree with me that he needed it." 

" I should like to see him very much." 

" Would you ? That is easily done. Come this way. You can 
leave your bag." 

'' No, I think that I'll take it." 

'* Very good. Come this way, if you please." He led us down a 
passage, opened a barred door, passed down a winding stair, and 
brought us to a white-washed corridor with a line of doors on each 

" The third on the right is his," said the inspector. *' Here it 
is ! " He quietly shot back a panel in the upper part of the door, 
and glanced through. 

'' He is asleep," said he. '' You can see him very well." 

We both put our eyes to the grating. The prisoner lay with his 
face towards us, in a very deep sleep, breathing slowly and heavily. 
He was a middle-sized man, coarsely clad as became his calling, 
with a coloured shirt protruding through the rent in his tattered 
coat. He was, as the inspector had said, extremely dirty, but the 
grime which covered his face could not conceal its repulsive ugli- 
ness. A broad wheal from an old scar ran across it from eye to 
chin, and by its contraction had turned up one side of the upper lip, 
so that three teeth were exposed in a perpetual snarl. A shock of 
very bright red hair grew low over his eyes and forehead. 

*' He's a beauty, isn't he ? " said the inspector, 



" He certainly needs a wash," remarked Holmes. '"' I had an 
idea that he might, and I took the liberty of bringing the tools with 
me." He opened his Gladstone bag as he spoke, and took out, to 
my astonishment, a very large bath sponge. 

" He ! he ! You are a funny one," chuckled the inspector. 

" Now, if you 
will have the great 
goodness to open 
that door very 
quietly, we will 
soon make him cut 
a much more re- 
spectable figure." 

"Well, I don't 
know why not," 
said the inspector. 
*' He doesn't look 
a credit to the Bow- 
street cells, does 
he ? " He slipped 
his key into the 
lock, and we all very 
quietly entered the 
cell. The sleeper 
half turned, and 
then settled down 
once more into a 
deep slumber. 
Holmes stooped to 
the water jug, 
moistened his 
sponge, and then 
rubbed it twice vigorously across and down the prisoner's face. 

"Let me introduce you," he shouted, "to Mr. Neville St. Clair, 
of Lee, in the county of Kent." 

Never in my life have I seen such a sight. The man's face 
peeled off under the sponge like the bark from a tree. Gone was 
the coarse brown tint ! Gone, too, the horrid scar which had 
seamed it across, and the twisted lip which had given the repulsive 




sneer to the face ! A twitch brought away the tangled red hair, and 
there, sitting up in his bed, was a pale, sad-faced, refined-looking 
man, black-haired and smooth-skinned, rubbing his eyes, and 
staring about him with sleepy bewilderment. Then suddenly 
realising the exposure, he broke into a scream, and threw himself 
down with his face to the pillow. 

** Great heaven ! " cried the inspector, ** it is, indeed, the missing 
man. I know him from the photograph." 

The prisoner turned with the reckless air of a man who aban- 


dons himself to his destiny. *' Be it so," said he. " And pray what 
am I charged with ? " 

" With making away with Mr. Neville St. Oh, come, you 

can't be charged with that, unless they make a case of attempted 
suicide of it," said the inspector, with a grin. "Well, I have 
been twenty-seven years in the force, but this really takes the 

" If I am Mr. Neville St. Clair, then it is obvious that no crime 
has been committed, and that, therefore, I am illegally detained." 

** No crime, but a very great error has been committed," said 


Holmes. *' You would have done better to have trusted vour 

*' It was not the wife, it was the children," groaned the prisoner. 
" God help me, I would not have them ashamed of their father. 
My God ! What an exposure ! What can I do ? " 

Sherlock Holmes sat down beside him on the couch, and patted 
him kindly on the shoulder. 

" If you leave it to a court of law to clear the matter up,." said 
he, " of course you can hardly avoid publicity. On the other hand, 
if you convince the police authorities that there is no possible case 
against you, I do not know that there is any reason that the details 
should find their way into the papers. Inspector Bradstreet would, 
I am sure, make notes upon anything which you might tell us, and 
submit it to the proper authorities. The case would then never go 
into court at all." 

"God bless you!" cried the prisoner, passionately. "I would 
have endured imprisonment, aye, even execution, rather than have 
left my miserable secret as a family blot to my children. 

** You are the first who have ever heard my story. My father 
was a schoolmaster in Chesterfield, where I received an excellent 
education. I travelled in my youth, took to the stage, and finally 
became a reporter on an evening paper in London. One day my 
editor wished to have a series of articles upon begging in the 
metropolis, and I volunteered to supply them. There was the point 
from which all my adventures started. It was onl}' by trying 
begging as an amateur that I could get the facts upon which to 
base my articles. When an actor I had, of course, learned all the 
secrets of making up, and had been famous in the green-room for 
my skill. I took advantage now of my attainments. I painted my 
face, and to make myself as pitiable as possible I made a good scar 
and fixed one side of my lip in a twist by the aid of a small slip of 
flesh-coloured plaster. Then with a red head of hair, and an 
appropriate dress, I took my station in the busiest part of the City, 
ostensibly as a match-seller, but really as a beggar. For seven 
hours I plied my trade, and when I returned home in the evening I 
found, to my surprise, that I had received no less than twenty-six 
shillings and fourpence. 

*' I wrote my articles, and thought little more of the matter 
until, some time later, I backed a bill for a friend, and had a writ 



served upon me for £2^. I was at my wits' end where to get the 
money, but a sudden idea came to me. I begged a fortnight's grace 
from the creditor, asked for a holiday from my employers, and spent 
the time in begging in the City under my disguise. In ten days I 
had the money, and had paid the debt. 

" Well, you can imagine how hard it was to settle down to 
arduous work at two pounds a week, when I knew that I could earn 
as much in a day by smearing my face with a little paint, laying my 
cap on the ground, and sitting still. It was a long fight between 
my pride and the mone}^ but the dollars won at last, and I threw 
up reporting, and sat day after day in the corner which I had first 
chosen, inspiring pity by my ghastly face, and filling my pockets 
with coppers. Only one man knew my secret. He was the keeper 
of a low den in which I used to lodge in Swandam-lane, where I 
could every morning emerge as a squalid beggar, and in the even- 
ings transform myself into a well-dressed man about town. This 
fellow, a Lascar, was well paid by me for his rooms, so that I knew 
that my secret was safe in his possession. 

" Well, very soon I found that I was saving considerable sums 
of money. I do not mean that any beggar in the streets of London 
could earn seven hundred pounds a year — which is less than my 
average takings — but I had exceptional advantages in my power of 
making up, and also in a facility in repartee, which improved by 
practice, and made me quite a recognised character in the City. 
All day a stream of pennies, varied by silver, poured in upon me, 
and it was a very bad day upon which I failed to take two pounds. 

" As I o-rew richer I grew more ambitious, took a house in the 
country, and eventually married, without any one having a suspicion 
as to my real occupation. My dear wife knew that I had business 
in the City. She little knew what. 

*' Last Monday I had finished for the da}^ and was dressing in 
my room above the opium den, when I looked out of the window, 
and saw, to my horror and astonishment, that my wife was standing 
in the street, with her eyes fixed full upon me. I gave a cry of 
surprise, threw up my arms to cover my face, and, rushing to my 
confidant, the Lascar, entreated him to prevent any one from coming 
up to me. I heard her voice downstairs, but I knew that she could 
not ascend. Swiftly I threw off my clothes, pulled on those of a 
beggar, and put on my pigments and wig. Even a wife's eyes could 


not pierce so complete a disguise. But then it occurred to me that 
there might be a search in the room, and that the clothes might 
betray me. I threw open the window, re-opening by my violence a 
small cut which I had inflicted upon myself in the bedroom that 
morning. Then I seized my coat, which was weighted by the 
coppers which I had just transferred to it from the leather bag in 
w^hich I carried my takings. I hurled it out of the window, and it 
disappeared into the Thames. The other clothes would have 
followed, but at that moment there was a rush of constables up the 
stair, and a few minutes after I found, rather, I confess, to my 
relief, that instead of being identified as Mr. Neville St. Clair, I was 
arrested as his murderer. 

" I do not know that there is anything else for me to explain. I 
was determined to preserve my disguise as long as possible, and 
hence my preference for a dirty face. Knowing that my wife would 
be terribly anxious, I slipped off my ring, and confided it to the 
Lascar at a moment when no constable was watching me, together 
with a hurried scrawl, telling her that she had no cause to fear." 

*' That note only reached her yesterday," said Holmes. 

** Good God ! What a week she must have spent." 

" The police have watched this Lascar," said Inspector Brad- 
street, " and I can quite understand that he might find it difficult 
to post a letter unobserved. Probably he handed it to some sailor 
customer of his, who forgot all about it for some days." 

" That was it," said Holmes, nodding approvingly, '*' I have no 
doubt of it. But have you never been prosecuted for begging." 

" Many times ; but what was a fine to me ? " 

" It must stop here, however," said Bradstreet. " If the police 
are to hush this thing up, there must be no more of Hugh Boone." 

*' I have sworn it by the most solemn oaths which a man can 

" In that case I think that it is probable that no further steps 
may be taken. But if you are found again, then all must come out. 
I am sure, Mr. Holmes, that we are very much indebted to you for 
having cleared the matter up. I wish I knew how you reach your 

"I reached this one," said my friend, ''by sitting upon five 
pillows and consuming an ounce of shag. I think, Watson, that if 
we drive to Baker-street we shall just be in time for breakfast," 



i^ HAD called upon my friend Sherlock Holmes upon 
1 the second morning after Christmas, with the inten- 
tion of wishing him the compliments of the season. 
He was lounging upon the sofa in a purple dressing- 
gown, a pipe-rack within his reach upon the right, 
and a pile of crumpled morning papers, evidently newly studied, 
near at hand. Beside the couch was a wooden chair, and on the 


angle of the back hung a very seedy and disreputable hard felt hat, 

much the worse for wear, and cracked in several places. A lens 



and a forceps lying upon the seat of the chair suggested that the 
hat had been suspended in this manner for the purpose of 

" You are engaged," said I ; *' perhaps I interrupt you." 

" Not at all. I am glad to have a friend with whom I can dis- 
cuss my results. The matter is a perfectly trivial one " (he jerked 
his thumb in the direction of the old hat), "but there are points in 
connection with it which are not entirely devoid of interest, and 
even of instruction." 

I seated myself in his armchair, and warmed my hands before 
his crackling fire, for a sharp frost had set in, and the windows were 
thick with the ice crystals. " I suppose," I remarked, ** that, 
homely as it looks, this thing has some deadly story linked on to it 
— that it is the clue which will guide you in the solution of some 
mystery, and the punishment of some crime." 

" No, no. No crime," said Sherlock Holmes, laughing. *' Only 
one of those whimsical little incidents which will happen when you 
have four million human beings all jostling each other within the 
space of a few square miles. Amid the action and reaction of so 
dense a swarm of humanity, every possible combination of events 
may be expected to take place, and many a little problem will be 
presented which may be striking and bizarre without being criminal. 
We have already had experience of such." 

" So much so," I remarked, " that, of the last six cases which I 
have added to my notes, three have been entirely free of any legal 

*' Precisely. You allude to my attempt to recover the Irene 
Adler papers, to the singular case of Miss Mary Sutherland, and to 
the adventure of the man with the twisted lip. Well, I have no 
doubt that this small matter will fall into the same innocent cate- 
gory. You know Peterson, the commissionaire ? " 


" It is to him that this trophy belongs." 

" It is his hat." 

" No, no ; he found it. Its owner is unknown. I beg that you 
will look upon it, not as a battered billycock, but as an intellectual 
problem. And, first, as to how it came here. It arrived upon 
Christmas morning, in company with a good fat goose, which is, I 
have no doubt, roasting at this moment in front of Peterson's fire. 



The facts are these. About four o'clock on Christmas morning, 
Peterson, who, as you know, is a very honest fellow, was returning 
from some small jollification, and was making his way homewards 
down Tottenham Court-road. In front of him he saw, in the gas- 
light, a tallish man, walking with a slight stagger, and carrying a 
white goose slung over his shoulder. As he reached the corner of 
Goodge-street, a row broke out between this stranger and a little 
knot of roughs. One of the latter knocked off the man's hat, on 
which he raised his stick to defend himself, and, swinging it over 

"the roughs had fled at the APPEARAN'CE of PETERSON." 

his head, smashed the shop window behind him. Peterson had 
rushed forward to protect the stranger from his assailants, but the 
man, shocked at having broken the window, and seeing an official- 
looking person in uniform rushing towards him, dropped his goose, 
took to his heels, and vanished amid the labyrinth of small streets 
which lie at the back of Tottenham Court-road. The roughs had 
also fled at the appearance of Peterson, so that he was left in 
possession of the field of battle, and also of the spoils of victory in 


the shape of this battered hat and a most unimpeachable Christmas 

" Which surely he restored to their owner ? " 

*' My dear fellow, there lies the problem. It is true that ' For 
Mrs. Henry Baker ' was printed upon a small card which was tied 
to the bird's left leg, and it is also true that the initials ' H. B.' are 
legible upon the lining of this hat ; but, as there are some thousands 
of Bakers, and some hundreds of Henry Bakers in this city of ours, 
it is not easy to restore lost property to any one of them." 

" What, then, did Peterson do ? '' 

" He brought round both hat and goose to me on Christmas 
morning, knowing that even the smallest problems are of interest 
to me. The goose we retained until this morning, when there were 
signs that, in spite of the slight frost, it would be well that it should 
be eaten without unnecessary delay. Its finder has carried it off, 
therefore, to fulfil the ultimate destiny of a goose, while I continue 
to retain the hat of the unknown gentleman who lost his Christmas 

" Did he not advertise ? " 

" No." 

*'Then, what clue could you have as to his identity ? " 

*' Only as much as we can deduce." 

" From his hat ? " 

'' Precisely." 

''But you are joking. What can you gather from this old 
battered felt ? " 

" Here is my lens. You know my methods. What can you 
gather yourself as to the individuality of the man who has worn 
this article ? " 

I took the tattered object in my hands, and turned it over rather 
ruefully. It was a very ordinary black hat of the usual round shape, 
hard, and much the worse for wear. The lining had been of red 
silk, but was a good deal discoloured. There was no maker's name; 
but, as Holmes had remarked, the initials " H. B." were scrawled 
upon one side. It was pierced in the brim for a hat-securer, but 
the elastic was missing. For the rest, it was cracked, exceedingly 
dusty, and spotted in several places, although there seemed to have 
been some attempt to hide the discoloured patches by smearin"-^ 
them with ink. 


" I can see nothing," said I, handing it back to my friend. 

*' On the contrary, Watson, you can see everything. You fail, 
however, to reason from what you see. You are too timid in draw- 
ing your inferences." 

'' Then, pray tell me what it is that you can infer from this 
hat ? " 

He picked it up, and gazed at it in the peculiar introspective 
fashion which was characteristic of him. '* It is perhaps less 
suggestive than it might have been," he remarked, *' and yet 
there are a few inferences which are very distinct, and a few 
others which represent at least a strong balance of probability. 
That the man was higi ly intellectual is of course obvious upon 
the face of it, and also that he was fairly well-to-do within 
the last three 3^ears, although he has now fallen upon evil 
days. He had foresight, but has less now than formerly, 
pointing to a moral retrogression, which, when taken with the 
decline of his fortunes, seems to indicate some evil influence, 
probably drink, at work upon him. This may account also for the 
obvious fact that his wife has ceased to love him." 

*' My dear Holmes ! " 

*' He has, however, retained some degree of self-respect," he 
continued, disregarding my remonstrance. " He is a man who 
leads a sedentary life, goes out little, is out of training entirely, is 
middle-aged, has grizzled hair which he has had cut within the last 
few days, and which he anoints with lime-cream. These are the more 
patent facts which are to be deduced from his hat. Also, by the 
way, that it is extremely improbable that he has gas laid on in his 

** You are certainly joking, Holmes." 

*' Not in the least. Is it possible that even now when I give 
you these results you are unable to see how they are attained ? " 

" I have no doubt that I am very stupid ; but I must confess that 
I am unable to follow you. For example, how did you deduce that 
this man was intellectual ? " 

For answer Holmes clapped the hat upon his head. It came 
right over the forehead and settled upon the bridge of his nose. 
" It is a question of cubic capacity," said he ; ''a man with so large 
a brain must have something in it." 

*' The decline of his fortunes, then ? " 


" This hat is three years old. These flat brims curled at the edge 
came in then. It is a hat of the very best quality. Look at the 
band of ribbed silk, and the excellent lining. If this man could 
afford to buy so expensive a hat three years ago, and has had no hat 
since, then he has assuredly gone down in the world." 

" Well, that is clear enough, certainly. But how about the 
foresight, and the moral retrogression ? " 

Sherlock Holmes laughed. " Here is the foresight," said he, 
putting his finger upon the little disc and loop of the hat-securer. 
" They are never sold upon hats. If this man ordered one, it is a 
sign of a certain amount of foresight, since he went out of his way 
to take this precaution against the wind. But since we see that he 
has broken the elastic, and has not troubled to replace it, it is 
obvious that he has less foresight now than formerly, which is a 
distinct proof of a weakening nature. On the other hand, he has 
endeavoured to conceal some of these stains upon the felt by 
daubing them with ink, which is a sign that he has not entirely 
lost his self-respect." 

" Your reasoning is certainly plausible." 

" The further points, that he is middle-aged, that his hair is 
grizzled, that it has been recently cut, and that he uses lime-cream, 
are all to be gathered from a close examination of the lower part of 
the lining. The lens discloses a large number of hair ends, clean 
cut by the scissors of the barber. They all appear to be adhesive, 
and there is a distinct odour of lime-cream. This dust, you will 
observe, is not the gritty, grey dust of the street, but the fluffy 
brown dust of the house, showing that it has been hung up indoors 
most of the time ; while the marks of moisture upon the inside are 
proof positive that the wearer perspired very freely, and could, 
therefore, hardly be in the best of training." 

** But his wife — you said that she had ceased to love him." 

" This hat has not been brushed for weeks. When I see you, 
my dear Watson, with a week's accumulation of dust upon your 
hat, and when your wife allows you to go out in such a state, I shall 
fear that you also have been unfortunate enough to lose your wife's 

"But he might be a bachelor." 

" Nay, he was bringing home the goose as a peace-offering to his 
wife. Remember the card upon the bird's leg." 




" You have an answer to everything. But how on earth do you 
deduce that the gas is not laid on in the house ? " 

*' One tallow stain, or even two, might come by chance ; but, 
when I see no less than five, I think that there can be little 
doubt that the individual must be brought into frequent contact with 
burning tallow — walks upstairs at night probably with his hat in 
one hand and a guttering candle in the other. Anyhow, he never 
got tallow stains from a gas jet. Are you satisfied ? " 

''Well, it is very ingenious," said I, laughing; "but since, as 
you said just now, there has been no crime commifted, and no harm 
done save the loss 

of a goose, all this f| 

seems to be rather 
a waste of energy.' 


Sherlock Holmes had opened his mouth to reply, when the door 
flew open, and Peterson the commissionaire rushed into the apart- 
ment with flushed cheeks and the face of a man who is dazed with 

" The goose, Mr. Holmes ! The goose, sir ! " he gasped. 

** Eh ? What of it, then ? Has it returned to life, and flapped 
off through the kitchen window ? " Holmes twisted himself round 
upon the sofa to get a fairer view of the man's excited face. 

''See here, sir! See what my wife found in its crop!" He 
held out his hand, and displayed upon the centre of the palm a 


brilliantly scintillating blue stone, rather smaller than a bean in size, 
but of such purity and radiance that it twinkled like an electric 
point in the dark hollow of his hand. 

Sherlock Holmes sat up with a whistle. " By Jove, Peterson ! " 
said he, *' this is treasure trove indeed. I suppose you know what 
you have got ? " 

"A diamond, sir! A precious stone! It cuts into glass as 
though it were putty." 

" It's more than a precious stone. It's the precious stone." 

''Not the Countess of Morcar's blue carbuncle!" I ejacu- 

" Precisely so. I ought to know its size and shape, seeing that 
I have read the advertisement about it in The Times every day 
lately. It is absolutely unique, and its value can only be con- 
jectured, but the reward offered of a thousand pounds is certainly 
not within a twentieth part of the market price." 

*'A thousand pounds! Great Lord of mercy!" The commis- 
sionaire plumped down into a chair, and stared from one to the 
other of us. 

*' That is the reward, and I have reason to know that there are 
sentimental considerations in the background which would induce 
the Countess to part with half of her fortune, if she could but 
recover the gem." 

" It was lost, if I remember aright, at the Hotel Cosmopolitan," 
I remarked. 

*' Precisely so, on the twenty-second of December, just five days 
ago. John Horner, a plumber, was accused of having abstracted it 
from the ladv's jewel case. The evidence against him was so strong 
that the case has been referred to the Assizes. I have some 
account of the matter here, I believe." He rummaged amid his 
newspapers, glancing over the dates, until at last he smoothed one 
out, doubled it over, and read the following paragraph : — 

** Hotel Cosmopolitan Jewel Robbery. John Horner, 26, 
plumber, was brought up upon the charge of having upon the 
22nd inst. abstracted from the jewel case of the Countess of Morcar 
the valuable gem known as the blue carbuncle. James Ryder, 
upper-attendant at the hotel, gave his evidence to the effect that he 
had shown Horner tip to the dressing-room of the Countess of 
Morcar upon the day of the robbery, in order that he might solder 


the second bar of the grate, which was loose. He had remained 
wnth Horner some Httle time, but had finally been called away. 
On returning, he found that Horner had disappeared, that the 
bureau had been forced open, and that the small morocco casket 
in which, as it afterwards transpired, the Countess was accustomed 
to keep her jewel was lying empty upon the dressing-table. Ryder 
instantly gave the alarm, and Horner w^as arrested the same even- 
ing ; but the stone could not be found either upon his person or in 
his rooms. Catherine Cusack, maid to the Countess, deposed to 
having heard Ryder's cry of dismay on discovering the robbery, and 
to having rushed into the room, where she found matters as 
described by the last witness. Inspector Bradstreet, B division, 
gave evidence as to the arrest of Horner, who struggled frantically, 
and protested his innocence in the strongest terms. Evidence of a 
previous conviction for robbery having been given against the 
prisoner, the magistrate refused to deal summarily with the 
offence, but referred it to the Assizes. Horner, who had shown 
signs of intense emotion during the proceedings, fainted away at 
the conclusion, and was carried out of court." 

" Hum ! So much for the police-court," said Holmes, thought- 
fully, tossing aside the paper. " The question for us now to solve 
is the sequence of events leading from a rifled jewel case at one end 
to the crop of a goose in Tottenham Court-road at the other. You 
see, Watson, our little deductions have suddenly assumed a much 
more important and less innocent aspect. Here is the stone ; the 
stone came from the goose, and the goose came from Mr. Henry 
Baker, the gentleman with the bad hat and all the other character- 
istics with which I have bored you. So now w^e must set ourselves 
very seriously to finding this gentleman, and ascertaining what part 
he has played in this little mystery. To do this, we must try the 
simplest means first, and these lie undoubtedly in an advertisement 
in all the evening papers. If this fail, I shall have recourse to 
other methocs." 

*' What will you say?" 

** Give me a pencil, and that slip of paper. Now then : * Found 
at the corner of Goodge-street, a goose and a black felt hat. Mr. 
Henry Baker can have the same by appl3ing at 6.30 this evening at 
221B, Baker-street.' That is clear and concise." 

<* Very. But will he see it ? " 


" Well, he is sure to keep an eye on the papers, since, to a poor 
man, the loss was a heavy one. He was clearly so scared by his 
mischance in breaking the window, and by the approach of Peter- 
son, that he thought of nothing but flight ; but since then he must 
have bitterly regretted the impulse which caused him to drop his 
bird. Then, again, the introduction of his name will cause him to 
see it, for every one who knows him will direct his attention to it. 
Here you are Peterson, run down to the advertising agency, and 
have this put in the evening papers." 

'' In which, sir." 

" Oh, in the Globe, Star, Pall Mall, St. James's Gazette, Evening 
News, Standard, EcJio, and any others that occur to you." 

'* Very well, sir. And this stone ? " 

*'Ah, yes, I shall keep the stone. Thank you. And, I say, 
Peterson, just buy a goose on your way back, and leave it here with 
me, for we must have one to giwQ to this gentleman in place of the 
one which your family is now devouring." 

When the commissionaire had gone, Holmes took up the stone 
and held it against the light. '* It's a bonny thing," said lie. "Just 
see how it glints and sparkles. Of course it is a nucleus and focus 
of crime. Every good stone is. They are the devil's pet baits. In 
the larger and older jewels every facet may stand for a bloody deed. 
This stone is not yet twenty years old. It was found in the banks 
of the Amoy River in Southern China, and is remarkable in having 
every characteristic of the carbuncle, save that it is blue in shade, 
instead of ruby red. In spite of its youth, it has already a sinister 
history. There have been two murders, a vitrol-throwing, a suicide, 
and several robberies brought about for the sake of this forty-grain 
weight of crystallised charcoal. Who would think that so pretty a toy 
would be a purveyor to the gallows and the prison ? I'll lock it up 
in my strong-box now, and drop a line to the Countess to say that 
we have it." 

" Do you think this man Horner is innocent ? " 

" I cannot tell." 

*' Well, then, do you imagine that this other one, Henry Baker, 
had anything to do with the matter ? " 

• ** It is, I think, much more likely that Henry Baker is an abso- 
lutely innocent man, who had no idea that the bird which he was 
carrying was of considerably more value than if it were made of 


solid gold. That, however, I shall determine by a very simple test, 
if w^e have an answer to oar advertisement." 

*' And you can do nothing until then ? " 

'' Nothing." 

" In that case I shall continue my professional round. But I 
shall come back in the evening at the hour you have mentioned, 
for I should like to see the solution of so tangled a business." 

*' Very glad to see you. I dine at seven. There is a woodcock, 
I believe. By the way, in view of recent occurrences, perhaps I 
ought to ask Mrs. Hudson to examine its crop." 

I had been delayed at a case, and it was a little after half-past 
six when I found myself in Baker-street once more. As I ap- 
proached the house I sav/ a tall man in a Scotch bonnet, with a 
coat which was buttoned up to his chin, waiting outside in the bright 
semicircle which was thrown from the fanlight. Just as I arrived, 
the door was opened, and we w^ere shown up together to Holmes' 

** Mr. Henry Baker, I believe," said he, rising from his armchair, 
and greeting his visitor with the easy air of geniality which he could 
so readily assume. *' Pray take this chair by the fire, Mr. Baker. 
It is a cold night, and I observe that your circulation is more 
adapted for summer than for winter. Ah, Watson, you have just 
come at the right time. Is that your hat, Mr. Baker?" 

*' Yes, sir, that is undoubtedly my hat." 

He was a large man, with rounded shoulders, a massive head, and 
a broad, intelligent face, sloping down to a pointed beard of grizzled 
brown. A touch of red in nose and cheeks, with a slight tremor of 
his extended hand, recalled Holmes' surmise as to his habits. His 
rusty black frock-coat was buttoned right up in front, with the 
collar turned up, and his lank wrists protruded from his sleeves 
without a sign of cuff or shirt. He spoke in a low staccato fashion, 
choosing his words with care, and gave the impression generally of 
a man of learning and letters who had had ill-usage at the hands of 

*' We have retained these things for some days," said Holmes, 
" because we expected to see an advertisement from you giving your 
address. I am at a loss to know now why you did not advertise." 

Our visitor gave a rather shame-faced laugh. " Shillings have 
not been so plentiful with me as they once were," he remarked. *' I 


had no doubt that the gang of roughs who assaulted me had carried 
off both my hat and the bird. I did not care to spend more money 
in a hopeless attempt at recovering them." 

" Very naturally. By the way, about the bird, we were compelled 
to eat it." 

*' To eat it ! " Our visitor half rose from his chair in his excite- 

*' Yes, it would have been no use to any one had we not done so. 
But I presume that this other goose upon the sideboard, which 
is about the same weight and perfectly fresh, will answer your 
purpose equally well ? " 

" Oh, certainly, certainly ! " answered Mr. Baker, with a sigh of 

"Of course, we still have the feathers, legs, crop, and so on of 
your own bird, so if you wish " 

The man burst into a hearty laugh. " They might be useful tu 
me as relics of my adventure," said he, " but beyond that I can 
hardly see what use the disjecta membra of my late acquaintance are 
going to be to me. No, sir, I think that, with your permission, I 
will confine my attentions to the excellent bird which I perceive 
upon the sideboard." 

Sherlock Holmes glanced sharply across at me with a slight 
shrug of his shoulders. 

" There is your hat, then, and there your bird," said he. *' By 
the way, would it bore you to tell me where you got the other one 
from ? I am somewhat of a fowl fancier, and I have seldom seen a 
better-grown goose." 

'* Certainly, sir," said Baker, who had risen and tucked his 
newly-gained property under his arm. " There are a few of us who 
frequent the * Alpha ' Inn, near the Museum — we are to be found in 
the Museum itself during the day, you understand. This year our 
good host, Windigate by name, instituted a goose club, by which, 
on consideration of some few pence every week, we were each to 
receive a bird at Christmas. My pence were duly paid, and the rest 
is familiar to you. I am much indebted to you, sir, for a Scotch 
bonnet is fitted neither to my years nor my gravity." With a 
comical pomposity of manner he bowed solemnly to both of us, and 
strode off upon his way. 

" So much for Mr. Henry Baker," said Holmes, when he had 



closed the door behind him. "It is quite certain that he knows 
nothing whatever about the matter. Are you hungry, Watson ? " 
" Not particularly." ' 

"Then I suggest that we turn our dinner into a supper, and 
follow up this clue while it is still hot." 

" By all means." \ 

It was a bitter night, so we drew on our ulsters and wrapped 

cravats about our throats. Outside, the stars were shining coldly in 

a cloudless sky, and the breath of the passers-by blew out into smoke 

like so many pistol 
shots. Ourfootfalls 
rang out crisply 
and loudly as we 
swung through the 
Doctors' quarter, 
Wimpole - street, 
Harley-street, and 
so through Wig- 
more - street into 
Oxford-street. In 
a quarter of an 
^^^^M , JW^SHBP'^^J, ^^^^'''HfetfMBir hour we were in 

Bloomsbury at the 
"Alpha" Inn, 
which is a small 
public-house at the 
corner of one of 
the streets which 
runs down into 
Holborn. Holmes 
pushed open the door of the private bar, and ordered two glasses 
of beer from the ruddy-faced, white-aproned landlord. 

** Your beer should be excellent if it is as good as your geese," 
said he. 

" My geese ! " The man seemed surprised. 

** Yes. I was speaking only half an hour ago to Mr. Henry 
Baker, who was a member of your goose-club." 

"Ah ! yes, I see. But you see, sir, them's not our geese." 
"Indeed ! Whose, then ?" 



" Well, I got the two dozen from a salesman in Covent Garden." 

" Indeed ! I know some of them. Which was it ? " 

" Breckinridge is his name." 

" Ah ! I don't know him. Well, here's your good health, land- 
lord, and prosperity to your house. Good-night." 

** Now for Mr. Breckinridge," he continued, buttoning up his 
coat, as we came out into the frosty air. " Remember, Watson, 
that though we have so homely a thing as a goose at one end of this 
chain, we have at the other a man who will certainly get seven 
years' penal servitude, unless we can establish his innocence. It is 
possible that our inquiry may but confirm his guilt ; but, in any case, 
we have a line of investigation which has been missed by the police, 
and which a singular chance has placed in our hands. Let us 
follow it out to the bitter end. Faces to the south, then, and quick 
march ! " 

We passed across Holborn, down Endell-street, and so through a 
zigzag of slums to Covent Garden Market. One of the largest stalls 
bore the name of Breckinridge upon it, and the proprietor, a horsey- 
looking man, with a sharp face and trim side-whiskers, was helping 
a boy to put up the shutters. 

"Good evening. It's a cold night," said Holmes. 

The salesman nodded, and shot a questioning glance at my com- 

*' Sold out of geese, I see," continued Holmes, pointing at the 
bare slabs of marble. 

*' Let you have five hundred to-morrow morning." 

" That's no good." 

** Well, there are some on the stall with the gas flare." 

** Ah, but I was recommended to you." 

*' Who by ? " 

*' The landlord of the ' Alpha.' " 

*' Oh, yes ; I sent him a couple of dozen." 

" Fine birds they were, too. Now where did you get them from?" 

To my surprise the question provoked a burst of anger from the 

** Now, then, mister," said he, with his head cocked and his arms 
akimbo, " what are you driving at ? Let's have it straight, now." 

" It is straight enough. I should like to know who sold you the 
geese which you supplied to the ' Alpha.' " 


'' Well, then, I sh'an't tell you. So now ! " 

** Oh, it is a matter of no importance ; but I don't know why you 
should be so warm over such a trifle." 

" Warm ! You'd be as warm, maybe, if you were as pestered as 
I am. When I pay good money for a good article there should be 
an end of the business ; but it's ' Where are the geese ? ' and ' Who 
did you sell the geese to ? ' and ' What will you take for the geese ? ' 
One would think they were the only geese in the world, to hear the 
fuss that is made over them." 

*' Well, I have no connection with any other people who have 
been making inquiries," said Holmes carelessly. " If you won't tell 
us the bet is off, that is all. But I'm always ready to back my 
opinion on a matter of fowls, and I have a fiver on it that the bird I 
ate is country bred." 

'' Well, then, you've lost your fiver, for it's town bred," snapped 
the salesman. 

'' It's nothing of the kind." 

*' I say it is." 

'' I don't believe it." 

" D'you think you know more about fowls than I, who have 
handled them ever since I was a nipper ? I tell you, all those birds 
that went to the ' Alpha ' were town bred." 

*' You'll never persuade me to believe that." 

" Will you bet, then ? " 

*' It's merely taking your money, for I know that I am right. 
But I'll have a sovereign on with you, just to teach you not to be 

The salesman chuckled grimh'. " Bring me the books. Bill," 
said he. 

The small boy brought round a small thin volume and a great 
greasy-backed one, laying them out together beneath the hanging 

'* Now then, Mr. Cocksure," said the salesman, '' 1 thought that 
I was out of geese, but before I finish you'll find that there is still 
one left in my shop. You see this little book ? " 

*' Well ? " 

" That's the list of the folk from whom I buy. D'you see ? Well, 
then, here on this page are the country folk, and the numbers after 
their names are where their accounts are in the big ledger. Now, 



then ! You see this other page in red ink ? Well, that is a list of 
my town suppliers. Now, look at that third name. Just read it out 
to me." 

" Mrs. Oakshott, 117, Brixton-road — 249," read Holmes. 

*' Quite so. Now turn that up in the ledger." 

Holmes turned to the page indicated. " Here you are, * Mrs. 
Oakshott, 117, Brixton-road, ^gg and poultry supplier.' " 

" Now, then, what's the last entry ? " 

** ' December 22. Twenty-four geese at 7s. 6d.' " 


" Quite so. There you are. And underneath ? " 

'' ' Sold to Mr. Windigate of the '' Alpha " at 12s.' " 

*' What have you to say now ? " 

Sherlock Holmes looked deeply chagrined. He drew a sovereign 
from his pocket and threw it down upon the slab, turning away with 
the air of a man whose disgust is too deep for words. A few yards 
off he stopped under a lamp-post, and laughed in the hearty, noise- 
less fashion which was peculiar to him. 

*' When you see a man with whiskers of that cut and the 'pink 
'un ' protruding out of his pocket, you can always draw him by a 


bet," said he. " I daresay that if I had put a hundred pounds down 
in front of him that man would not have given me such complete 
information as was drawn from him by the idea that he was doing 
me on a wager. Well, Watson, we are, I fancy, nearing the end of 
our quest, and the only point which remains to be determined is 
whether we should go on to this Mrs. Oakshott to-night, or whether 
we should reserve it for to-morrow. It is clear from what that surly 
fellow said that there are others besides ourselves who are anxious 

about the matter, and I should " 

His remarks were suddenly cut short by a loud hubbub which 
broke out from the stall which we had just left. Turning round we 
saw a little rat-faced fellow standing in the centre of the circle of 
yellow light which was thrown by the swinging lamp, while Breckin- 
ridge the salesman, framed in the door of his stall, was shaking his 
fists fiercely at the cringing figure. 

*' I've had enough of you and your geese," he shouted. *' I wish 
you were all at the devil together. If you come pestering me any 
more with your silly talk I'll set the dog at you. You bring Mrs. 
Oakshott here and I'll answer her, but what have you to do with it ? 
Did I buy the geese off you ? " 

*' No ; but one of them was mine all the same," whined the little 

" Well, then, ask Mrs. Oakshott for it." 
" She told me to ask you." 

*' Well, you can ask the King of Proosia for all I care. I've had 
enough of it. Get out of this ! " He rushed fiercely forward, and 
the inquirer flitted away into the darkness. 

*' Ha, this may save us a visit to Brixton-road," whispered 
Holmes. *' Come with me, and we will see what is to be made of 
this fellow." Striding through the scattered knots of people who 
lounged round the flaring stalls, my companion speedily overtook 
the little man and touched him upon the shoulder. He sprang 
round, and I could see in the gaslight that every vestige of colour 
had been driven from his face. 

" Who are you, then ? What do you want ? " he asked in a 
quavering voice. 

** You will excuse me," said Holmes, blandly, " but I could not 
help overhearing the questions which you put to the salesman just 
now. I think that I could be of assistance to you." 



*' You ? Who are you ? How could you know anything of the 
matter ? " 

" My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what 
other people don't know." 

*' But you can know nothing of this ? " 

" Excuse me, I know everything of it. You are endeavouring to 


trace some geese which were sold by Mrs. Oakshott, of Brixton-road, 
to a salesman named Breckinridge, by him in turn to Mr. Windigate, 
of the ' Alpha,' and by him to his club, of which Mr. Henry Baker is 

a member." 

** Oh, sir, you are the very man whom I have longed to meet," 
cried the little fellow, with outstretched hands and quivering fingers. 
" I can hardly explain to you how interested I am in this matter." 


Sherlock Holmes hailed a four-wheeler which was passing. " In 
that case we had better discuss it in a cosy room rather than in this 
windswept market-place," said he. ** But pray tell me, before we 
go further, who it is that I have the pleasure of assisting." 

The man hesitated for an instant. *' My name is John Robin- 
son," he answered, with a sidelong glance. 

" No, no ; the real name," said Holmes, sweetly. " It is always 
awkward doing business with an alias.'' 

A flush sprang to the white cheeks of the stranger. " Well, 
then," said he, " my real name is James Ryder." 

" Precisely so. Head attendant at the Hotel Cosmopolitan. 
Pray step into the cab, and I shall soon be able to tell you every- 
thing which you would wish to know." 

The little man stood glancing from one to the other of us with 
half-frightened, half-hopeful eyes, as one who is not sure whether he 
is on the verge of a windfall or of a catastrophe. Then he stepped 
into the cab, and in half an hour we were back in the sitting-room 
at Baker-street. Nothing had been said during our drive, but the 
high, thin breathing of our new companion, and the claspings and 
unclaspings of his hands, spoke of the nervous tension within him. 

** Here we are ! " said Holmes, cheerily, as we filed into the room. 
" The fire looks very seasonable in this weather. You look cold, 
Mr. Ryder. Pray take the basket chair. I will just put on my 
slippers before we settle this little matter of yours. Now, then ! 
You want to know what became of those geese ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" Or rather, I fancy, of that goose. It was one bird, I imagine, 
in which you were interested — white, with a black bar across the 

Ryder quivered with emotion. " Oh, sir," he cried, "can you tell 
me where it went to." 

'' It came here." 

" Here ? " 

**Yes, and a most remarkable bird it proved. I don't wonder 
that you should take an interest in it. It laid an tgg after it was 
aead— the bonniest, brightest little blue Qgg that ever was seen. I 
have it here in my museum." 

Our visitor staggered to his feet, and clutched the mantelpiece 
with his right hand. Holmes unlocked his strong box, and held up 


the blue carbuncle, which shone out like a star, with a cold, brilliant, 
many-pointed radiance. Ryder stood glaring with a drawn face, 
uncertain whether to claim or to disown it. 

" The game's up, Ryder," said Holmes, quietly. '* Hold up, 
man, or you'll be into the fire. Give him an arm back into his 
chair, Watson. He's not got blood enough to go in for felony with 
impunity. Give him a dash of brandy. So ! Now he looks a little 
more human. What a shrimp it is, to be sure ! " 

For a moment he had staggered and nearly fallen, but the brandy 
brought a tinge of colour into his cheeks, and he sat staring with 
frightened eyes at his accuser. 

*' I have almost every link in my hands, and all the proofs which 
I could possibly need, so there is little which you need tell me. 
Still that little may as well be cleared up to make the case com- 
plete. You had heard, Ryder, of this blue stone of the Countess of 
Morcar's ? " 

" It was Catherine Cusack who told me of it," said he, in a 
crackling voice. 

*' I see. Her ladyship's waiting-maid. Well, the temptation of 
sudden wealth so easily acquired was too much for you, as it has 
been for better men before you ; but you were not very scrupulous 
in the means you used. It seems to me, Ryder, that there is the 
making of a very pretty villain in you. You knew that this man 
Horner, the plumber, had been concerned in some such matter 
before, and that suspicion would rest the more readily upon him. 
What did you do, then ? You made some small job in my lady's 
room — you and your confederate Cusack — and you managed that 
he should be the man sent for. Then, when he had left, you rifled 
the jewel case, raised the alarm, and had this unfortunate man 
arrested. Youthen " 

Ryder threw himself down suddenly upon the rug, and clutched 
at my companion's knees. *' For God's sake, have mercy ! " he 
shrieked. " Think of my father ! Of my mother ! It would break 
their hearts. I never went wrong before ! I never will again. I 
swear it. I'll swear it on a Bible. Oh, don't bring it into court ! 
For Christ's sake, don't ! " 

" Get back into your chair ! " said Holmes, sternly, " It is very 
well to cringe and crawl now, but you thought little enough of this 
poor Horner in the dock for a crime of which he knew nothino^." 



** I will fly, Mr. Holmes. I will leave the country, sir. Then 
the charge against him will break down." 

*' Hum ! We will talk about that. And now let us hear a true 
account of the next act. How came the stone into the goose, and 
how came the goose into the open market ? Tell us the truth, for 
there lies your only hope of safety." 


\ ' 


Ryder passed his tongue over his parched lips. '* I will tell you 
it just as it happened, sir," said he. " When Horner had been 
arrested, it seemed to me that it would be best for me to get away 
with the stone at once, for I did not know at what moment the 
police might not take it into their heads to search me and my 
room. There was no place about the hotel where it would be safe. 


I went out, as if on some commission, and I made for my sister's 
house. She had married a man named Oakshott, and lived in 
Brixton-road, where she fattened fowls for the market. All the way 
there every man I met seemed to me to be a policeman or a detec- 
tive, and for all that it was a cold night, the sweat was pouring 
down my face before I came to the Brixton-road. My sister aske.l 
me what was the matter, and why I was so pale ; but I told her 
that I had been upset by the jewel robbery at the hotel. Then I 
went into the back yard, and smoked a pipe, and w^ondered what it 
would be best to do. 

" I had a friend once called Maudsley, who went to the bad, and 
has just been serving his time in Pentonville. One day he had met 
me, and fell into talk about the ways of thieves and how they could 
get rid of what they stole. I knew that he would be true to me, for 
I knew one or two things about him, so I made up my mind to go 
right on to Kilburn, where he lived, and take him into my con- 
fidence. He would show me how to turn the stone into money. 
But how to get to him in safety. I thought of the agonies I had 
gone through in coming from the hotel. I might at any moment be 
seized and searched, and there would be the stone in my waistcoat 
pocket. I was leaning against the wall at the time, and looking at 
the geese which were waddling about round my feet, and suddenly 
an idea came into my head which showed me how I could beat the 
best detective that ever lived. 

*' My sister had told me some weeks before that I might have the 
pick of her geese for a Christmas present, and I knew that she was 
always as good as her word. I would take my goose now, and in it 
I would carry my stone to Kilburn. There was a little shed in the 
yard, and behind this I drove one of the birds, a fine big one, white 
with a barred tail. I caught it, and, prising its bill open, I thrust 
the stone down its throat as far as my finger could reach. The 
bird gave a gulp, and I felt the stone pass along its gullet and down 
into its crop. But the creature flapped and struggled, and out 
came my sister to know what was the matter. As I turned to 
speak to her the brute broke loose, and fluttered off among the 

" 'Whatever were you doing with that bird, Jem ? ' says she. 

" * Well,' said I, 'you said you'd give me one for Christmas, and 
I was feeling which was the fattest.' 



" ' Oh,' says she, * we've set yours aside for you. Jem's bird, we 
call it. It's the big, white one over yonder. There's twenty-six of 
them, which makes one for you, and one for us, and two dozen for 
the market.' 

" * Thank you, Maggie,' says I ; 'but if it is all the same to you 
I'd rather have that one I was handling just now.' 

*' ' The other is a good three pound heavier,' she said, * and we 
fattened it expressly for you.' 

'"Never mind. I'll have the other, and I'll take it now,' 
said I. 

" ' Oh, just as you like,' said she, a little huffed. ' Which is it 
vou want, then ? ' 

" ' That white one, with the barred tail, right in the middle of 
the flock.' 

** ' Oh, very well. Kill it and take it with you.' 

*' * Well, I did what she said, Mr. Holmes, and I carried the 
bird all the way to Kilburn. I told my pal what I had done, for he 
was a man that it was easy to tell a thing like that to. He laughed 
until he choked, and we got a knife and opened the goose. My 
heart turned to water, for there was no sign of the stone, and I 
knew that some terrible mistake had occurred. I left the bird, 
rushed back to my sister's, and hurried into the back yard. There 
was not a bird to be seen there. 

*' ' Where are they all, Maggie ? ' I cried. 

** * Gone to the dealer's.' 

*' ' Which dealer's ? ' 

*' ' Breckinridge, of Covent Garden.' 

*' ' But was there another with a barred tail?' I asked, 'the 
same as the one I chose ? ' 

"'Yes, Jem, there were two barred-tailed ones, and I could 
never tell them apart.' 

" ' Well, then, of course, I saw it all, and I ran off as hard as 
my feet would carry me to this man Breckinridge; but he had sold 
the lot at once, and not one word would he tell me as to where they 
had gone. You heard him yourselves to-night. Well, he has 
always answered me like that. My sister thinks that I am going 
mad. Sometimes I think that I am myself. And now — and now 
I am myself a branded thief, without ever having touched the 
wealth for which I sold my character. God help me ! God help 



me ! *' He burst into convulsive sobbing, with his face buried in his 

TJiere was a long silence, broken only by his heavy breathing, 
and by the measured tapping of Sherlock Holmes' finger-tips upon 
the edge of the table. Then my friend rose, and threw open the 

" Get out ! " said he. 

" What, sir ! Oh, heaven bless you ! " 

*' No more words. Get out ! " 

"he burst into convulsive sobbing." 

And no more words were needed There was a rush, a clatter 
upon the stairs, the bang of a door, and the crisp rattle of running 
footfalls from the street. 

" After all, Watson," said Holmes, reaching up his hand for his 
clay pipe, " I am not retained by the police to supply their de- 
ficiencies. If Horner were in danger it would be another thing, but 
this fellow will not appear against him, and the case must collapse. 
I suppose that I am commuting a felony, but it is just possible that 
1 am saving a soul. This fellow will not go wrong again. He is 
too terribly frightened. Send him to gaol now, and you make him 



a gaol-bird for life. Besides, it is the season of forgiveness. 
Chance has put in our way a most singular and whimsical problem, 
and its solution is its own reward. If 3 ou will have the goodness 
to touch the bell, Doctor, we will begin another investigation, in 
which also a bird will be the chief feature." 



N glancing over my notes of the seventy odd cases in 
which I have during the last eight years studied the 
methods of my friend Sherlock Holmes, I find many 
tragic, some comic, a large number merely strange, but 
none commonplace ; for, working as he did rather for 
the love of his art than for the acquirement of wealth, he refused to 
associate himself with any investigation which did not tend towards 
the unusual, and even the fantastic. Of all these varied cases, 
however, I cannot recall any which presented more singular features 
than that which was associated with the well-known Surrey family 
of the Roylotts of Stoke Moran. The events in question occurred in 
the early days of my association with Holmes, when we were sharing 
rooms as bachelors, in Baker-street. It is possible that I might 
have placed them upon record before, but a promise of secrecy was 
made at the time, from which I have only been freed during the last 
month by the untimely death of the lady to whom the pledge was 
given. It is perhaps as well that the facts should now come to light, 
for I have reasons to know there are widespread rumours as to the 
death of Dr. Grimesby Roylott which tend to make the matter even 
more terrible than the truth. 

It was early in April, in the year '8^, that I woke one morning 
to find Sherlock Holmes standing, fully dressed, by the side of my 
bed. He was a late riser as a rule, and, as the clock on the mantel- 
pie:e showed me that it was only a quarter past seven, I blinked up 
at him in some surprise, and perhaps just a little resentment, for 
I was myself regular in my habits. 

''Very sorry to knock you up, Watson," said he, ''but it's the 
common lot this morning. Mrs. Hudson has been knocked up, she 
retorted upon me, and I on you," 

" What is it, then ? A fire ? " 


" No, a client. It seems that a young lady has arrived in a 
considerable state of excitement, who insists upon seeing me. She 
is waiting now in the sitting-room. Now, when young ladies 
wander about the Metropolis at this hour of the morning, and knock 
sleepy people up out of their beds, I presume that it is something 
ver}' pressing which they have to communicate. Should it prove to be 
an interesting case, you would, I am sure, wish to follow it from the 
outset. I thought at any rate that I should call you, and give you 
the chance." 

" My dear fellow, I would not miss it for anything." 

I had no keener pleasure than in following Holmes in his profes- 
sional investigations, and in admiring the rapid deductions, as swift 
as intuitions, and yet always founded on a logical basis, with which 
he unravelled the problems which were submitted to him. I rapidly 
threw on my clothes, and was ready in a few minutes to accompany 
my friend down to the sitting-room. A lady dressed in black and 
heavily veiled, wdio had been sitting in the window, rose as we 

" Good morning, madam," said Holmes, cheerily. '' My name is 
Sherlock Holmes. This is my intimate friend and associate. Dr. 
Watson, before whom you can speak as freely as before myself. 
Ha, I am glad to see that Mrs. Hudson has had the good sense 
to light the fire. Pray draw up to it, and I shall order you a cup 
of hot coffee, for I observe that you are shivering." 

*' It is not cold which makes me shiver," said the woman in a 
low voice, changing her seat as requested. 

" What then ? " 

*' It is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is terror." She raised her veil as 
she spoke, and w^e could see that she was indeed in a pitiable state 
of a<^itation, her face all drawn and grey, with restless, frightened 
eyes, like those of some hunted animal. Her features and figure 
were those of a woman of thirty, but her hair was shot with 
premature grey, and her expression was weary and haggard. Sher- 
lock Holmes ran her over wdth one of his quick, all-comprehensive 


" You must not fear," said he, soothingly, bending forward and 
patting her forearm. " We shall soon set matters right, I have no 
doubt. You have come in by train this morning, I see." 

*' You know me, then ? " 



'* No, but I observe the second half of a return ticket in the 
palm of 30ur left glove. You must have started early, and yet 
you had a good drive in a dog-cart, along heavy roads, before you 
reached the station." 

The lady gave a violent start, and stared in bewilderment at my 

" There is no mystery, my dear madam," said he, smiling. '* The 
left arm of your jacket is spattered with mud in no less than seven 
places. The marks are perfectly fresh. There is no vehicle save 


a dog-cart which throws up mud in that way, and then only when 
you sit on the left-hand side of the driver." 

" Whatever your reasons may be, you are perfectly correct," 
said she. '^ I started from home before six, reached Leatherhead 
at twenty past, and came in by the first train to Waterloo. Sir, 
I can stand this strain no longer, I shall go mad if it continues. 
I have no one to turn to — none, save only one, who cares for me, 
and he, poor fellow, can be of little aid. I have heard of you, 
Mr. Holmes ; I have heard of you from Mrs. Farintosti, w^hom you 
helped in the hour of her sore need. It was from her that I had 
your address. Oh, sir, do you not think you could help me too, and 


at least throw a little light through the dense darkness which sur- 
rounds me ? At present it is out of my power to reward you for 
your services, but in a month or two I shall be married, with the 
control of my own income, and then at least you shall not find me 

Holmes turned to his desk, and unlocking it, drew out a small 
case-book which he consulted. 

" Farintosh," said he. "Ah, yes, I recall the case ; it was con- 
cerned with an opal tiara. I think it was before your time, Watson. 
I can only say, madam, that I shall be happy to devote the same 
care to your case as I did to that of your friend. As to reward, my 
profession is its reward ; but you are at liberty to defray whatever 
expenses I may be put to, at the time which suits you best. And 
now I beg that you will lay before us everything that may help us 
in forming an opinion upon the matter." 

*' Alas! " replied our visitor. "The very horror of my situation 
lies in the fact that my fears are so vague, and my suspicions depend 
so entirely upon small points, which might seem trivial to another, 
that even he to whom of all others I have a right to look for help 
and advice looks upon all that I tell him about it as the fancies 
of a nervous woman. He does not say so, but I can read it from 
his soothing answers and averted eyes. But I have heard, Mr. 
Holmes, that you can see deeply into the manifold wickedness of 
the human heart. You may advise me how to walk amid the dangers 
which encompass me." 

*' I am all attention, madam." 

" My name is Helen Stoner, and I am living with my stepfather, 
who is the last survivor of one of the oldest Saxon families in 
England, the Roylotts of Stoke Moran, on the western border of 

Holmes nodded his head. '' The name is familiar to me," said he. 

*' The family was at one time among the richest in England, and 
the estate extended over the borders into Berkshire in the north, 
and Hampshire in the west. In the last century, however, four 
successive heirs were of a dissolute and wasteful disposition, and 
the family ruin was eventually completed by a gambler, in the days 
of the Regency. Nothing was left save a few acres of ground, and 
the two-hundred-year-old house, which is itself crushed under a 
heavy mortgage. The last squire dragged out his existence there, 


living the horrible life of an aristocratic pauper ; but his only son, 
my stepfather, seeing that he must adapt himself to the new con- 
ditions, obtained an advance from a relative, which enabled him 
to take a medical degree, and went out to Calcutta, where, by his 
professional skill and his force of character, he established a large 
practice. In a fit of anger, however, caused by some robberies which 
had been perpetrated in the house, he beat his native butler to death, 
and narrowly escaped a capital sentence. As it was, he suffered 
a long term of imprisonment, and afterwards returned to England 
a morose and disappointed man. 

" When Dr. Roylott was in India he married my mother, Mrs. 
Stoner, the young widow of Major-General Stoner, of the Bengal 
Artillery. My sister Julia and I were twins, and we were only two 
years old at the time of my mother's re-marriage. She had a con- 
siderable sum of money, not less than a thousand a year, and this 
she bequeathed to Dr. Roylott entirely whilst we resided with him, 
with a provision that a certain annual sum should be allowed to 
each of us in the event of our marriage. Shortly after our return 
to England my mother died — she was killed eight years ago in 
a railway accident near Crewe. Dr. Roylott then abandoned his 
attempts to establish himself in practice in London, and took us 
to live with him in the old ancestral house at Stoke Moran. The 
money which my mother had left was enough for all our wants, and 
there seemed no obstacle to our happiness. 

" But a terrible change came over our stepfather about this time. 
Instead of making friends and exchanging visits with our neighbours, 
who had at first been overjoyed to see a Roylott of Stoke Moran 
back in the old family seat, he shut himself up in his house, and 
seldom came out save to indulge in ferocious quarrels with whoever 
might cross his path. Violence of temper approaching to mania 
has been hereditary in the men of the family, and in my stepfather's 
case it had, I believe, been intensified by his long residence in the 
tropics. A series of disgraceful brawls took place, two of which 
ended in the police-court, until at last he became the terror of the 
village, and the folks would fly at his approach, for he is a man 
of immense strength, and absolutely uncontrollable in his anger. 

" Last week he hurled the local blacksmith over a parapet into 
a stream, and it was only by paying over all the money that I could 
gather together that I was able to avert another public exposure. 



He had no friends at all save the wandering gipsies, and he would 
give these vagabonds leave to encamp upon the few acres of bramble- 
covered land which represent the family estate, and would accept in 
return the hospitality of their tents, wandering away with them 
sometimes for weeks on end. He has a passion also for Indian 
animals, which are sent over to him by a correspondent, and he has 
at this moment a cheetah and a baboon, which wander freely over 

his grounds, and are 
. feared by the villagers 

' / '^ almost as much as their 

**^^ ^ _ master. 

" You can imagine 
from what I say that 
my poor sister Julia and 
I had no great pleasure 
in our lives. No ser- 
vant would stay with 
us, and for a long time 
we did all the work of 
the house. She was 
but thirty at the time 
of her death, and yet 
her hair had already 
begun to whiten, even 
as mine has." 

'' Your sister is dead, 
then ? " 

'' She died just two 
\ears ago, and it is of 
her death that I wish to speak to you. You can understand that, 
living the life which I have described, we were little likely to see 
any one of our own age and position. We had, however, an aunt, 
my mother's maiden sister. Miss Honoria Westphail, who lives 
near Harrow, and we were occasionally allowed to pay short visits 
at tbis lady's house. Julia went there at Christmas two years ago, 
and met there a half-pay Major of Marines, to whom she became 
engaged. My stepfather learned of the engagement when my sister 
returned, and offered no objection to the marriage; but within a 
fortnight of the day which had been fixed for the wedding, the 

_7 ; •-• 



terrible event occurred which has deprived me of my only com- 

Sherlock Holmes had been leaning back in his chair with his eyes 
closed, and his head sunk in a cushion, but he half opened his lids 
now, and glanced across at his visitor. 

" Pray be precise as to details," said he. 

*' It is easy for me to be so, for every event of that dreadful time 
is seared into my memor3^ The manor house is, as I have alread}^ 
said, very old, and only one wing is now inhabited. The bedrooms 
in this wing are on the ground floor, the sitting-rooms being in the 
central block of the buildings. Of these bedrooms the first is Dr. 
Roylott's, the second my sister's, and the third my own. There is 
no communication between them, but they all open out into the 
same corridor. Do I make myself plain ? " 

" Perfectly so." 

" The windows of the three rooms open out upon the lawn. That 
fatal night Dr. Roylott had gone to his room early, though we knew 
that he had not retired to rest, for my sister was troubled by the 
smell of the strong Indian cigars which it was his custom to smoke. 
She left her room, therefore, and came into mine, where she sat for 
some time, chatting about her approaching wedding. At eleven 
o'clock she rose to leave me, but she paused at the door and looked 

'' ' Tell me, Helen,' said she, * have you ever heard any one 
v.'histle in the dead of the night ? ' 

" ' Never,' said I. 

** * I suppose that you could not possibly whistle yourself in your 
sleep ? ' 

'' ' Certainly not. But why ? ' 

" ' Because during the last few nights I have always, about three 
in the morning, heard a low clear whistle. I am a light sleeper, 
and it has awakened me. I cannot tell where it came from — 
perhaps from the next room, perhaps from the lawn. I thought 
that I would just ask you whether you had heard it.' 

"*No, I have not. It must be those wretched gipsies in the 

" ' Very likely. And yet if it were on the lawn I wonder that 
you did not hear it also.' 

" 'Ah, but I sleep more heavily than you.' 


*** Well, it is of no i^reat consequence at any rate,' she smiled 
back at me, closed my door, and a few moments, later I heard her 
key turn in the lock." 

" Indeed," said Holmes. " Was it your custom always to lock 
yourselves in at night ? " 

** Always." 

"And why?" 

" I think that I mentioned to you that the Doctor kept a cheetah 
and a baboon. We had no feeling of security unless our doors were 

*' Quite so. Pray proceed with your statement." 

*' I could not sleep that night. A vague feeling of impending 
misfortune impressed me. My sister and I, you will recollect, were 
twins, and you know how subtle are the links which bind two souls 
which are so closely allied. It was a wild night. The wind was 
howling outside, and the rain was beating and splashing against the 
windows. Suddenly, amidst all the hubbub of the gale, there burst 
forth the wild scream of a terrified woman. I knew that it was my 
sister's voice. I sprang from my bed, wrapped a shawl round me, 
and rushed into the corridor. As I opened my door I seemed to 
hear a low whistle, such as my sister described, and a few moments 
later a clanging sound, as if a mass of metal had fallen. As I ran 
down the passage my sister's door was unlocked, and revolved 
slowly upon its hinges. I stared at it horror-stricken, not knowing 
what was about to issue from it. By the light of the corridor lamp 
I saw my sister appear at the opening, her face blanched with terror, 
her hands groping for help, her whole figure swaying to and fro like 
that of a drunkard. I ran to her and threw my arms round her, but 
at that moment her knees seemed to give way and she fell to the 
ground. She writhed as one who is in terrible pain, and her limbs 
were dreadfully convulsed. At first I thought that she had not 
recognised me, but as I bent over her she suddenly shrieked out in a 
voice which I shall never forget, ' Oh, my God ! Helen ! It was the 
band ! The speckled band ! ' There was something else which she 
w^ould fain have said, and she stabbed with her finger into the air in 
the direction of the Doctor's room, but a fresh convulsion seized her 
and choked her words. I rushed out, calling loudly for my step- 
father, and I met him hastening from his room in his dressing-gown. 
When he reached my sister's side she was unconscious, and though 



lie poured brandy down her throat, and sent for medical aid from the 
village, all efforts were in vain, for she slowly sank and died without 
having recovered her consciousness. Such was the dreadful end of 
my beloved sister." 

** One moment," said Holmes ; "■ are you sure about this whistle 
and metallic sound ? Could you swear to it ? " 

*' That was what the county coroner asked me at the inquiry. 
It is my strong impression that I heard it, and yet among the crash 
of the gale, and the creaking of an old house, I may possibly have 
been deceived." 


*' Was 3^our sister dressed ? " 

'* No, she was in her nightdress. In her right hand was found 
the charred stump of a match, and in her left a matchbox." 

" Showing that she had struck a light and looked about her when 
the alarm took place. That is important. And what conclusions 
did the coroner come to ? " 

" He investigated the case with great care, for Dr. Roylott's 
conduct had long been notorious in the count}^ but he was unable 


to find any satisfactory cause of death. My evidence showed that 
the door had been fastened upon the inner side, and the windows 
were blocked by old-fashioned shutters with broad iron bars, which 
were secured every night. The walls were carefully sounded, and 
were shown to be quite solid all round, and the flooring was also 
thoroughly examined, with the same result. The chimney is wide, 
but is barred up by four large staples. It is certain, therefore, that 
my sister was quite alone when she met her end. Besides, there 
were no marks of any violence upon her." 

" How about poison ? " 

" The doctors examined her for it, but without success." 

" What do you think that this unfortunate lady died of, then ? " 

*' It is my belief that she died of pure fear and nervous shock, 
though what it was which frightened her I cannot imagine." 

*' Were there gipsies in the plantation at the time ? " 

** Yes, there are nearly always some there." 

" Ah, and what did you gather from this allusion to a band — a 
speckled band ? " 

*' Sometimes I have tho^jght that it was merely the wild talk of 
delirium, sometimes that it may have referred to some band of 
people, perhaps to these very gipsies in the plantation. I do not 
know whether the spotted handkerchiefs which so many of them 
wear over their heads might have suggested the strange adjective 
which she used." 

Holmes shook his head like a man who is far from being satisfied. 

'* These are very deep waters," said he; "pray go on with your 

" Two years have passed since then, and my life has been until 
lately lonelier than ever. A month ago, however, a dear friend, 
whom I have known for many years, has done me the honour to ask 
my hand in marriage. His name is Armitage — Percy Armitage — 
the second son of Mr. Armitage, of Crane Water, near Reading. 
My stepfather has offered no opposition to the match, and we are to 
be married in the course of the spring. Two days ago some repairs 
were started in the west wing of the building, and my bedroom wall 
has been pierced, so that I have had to move into the chamber in 
which my sister died, and to sleep in the very bed in which she slept. 
Imagine, then, my thrill of terror when last night, as I lay awake, 
thinking over her terrible fate, I suddenly heard in the silence of the 


night the low whistle which had been the herald of her own death. 
I sprang up and lit the lamp, but nothing was to be seen in the 
room. I was too shaken to go to bed again, however, so I dressed, 
and as soon as it was daylight I slipped down, got a dog-cart at the 
* Crown ' inn, which is opposite, and drove to Leatherhead, from 
whence I have come on this morning with the one object of seeing 
you and asking your advice." 

" You have done wisely," said my friend. " But have you told 
me all ? " 

** Yes, all." 

*' Miss Roylott, you have not. You are screening your step- 

" Why, what do you mean ? " 

For answer Holmes pushed back the frill of black lace which 
fringed the hand that lay upon our visitor's knee. Five little livid 
spots, the marks of four fingers and a thumb, were printed upon the 
white wrist. 

" You have been cruelly used," said Holmes. 

The lady coloured deeply, and covered over "her injured wrist. 
" He is a hard man," she said, '' and perhaps he hardly knows his 
own strength." 

There was a long silence, during which Holmes leaned his chin 
upon his hands and stared into the crackling fire. 

*' This is very deep business," he said at last. " There are a 
thousand details which I should desire to know before I decide upon 
our course of action. Yet we have not a moment to lose. If we 
were to come to Stoke Moran to-day, would it be possible for us to 
see over these rooms without the knowledge of your stepfather ? " 

*' As it happens, he spoke of coming into town to-day upon some 
most important business. It is probable that he will be away all 
day, and that there would be nothing to disturb 5^ou. We have a 
housekeeper now, but she is old and foolish, and I could easily get 
her out of the wav." 


" Excellent. You are not averse to this trip, Watson ? " 

" By no means." 

"Then we shall both come. What are you going to do yourself? " 

" I have one or two things which I would wish to do now that I 
am in town. But I shall return by the twtlve o'clock train, so as to 
be there in time for your coming." 


*' And you may expect us early in the afternoon. I have myself 
some small business matters to attend to. Will you not wait and 
breakfast ? " 

" No, I must go. My heart is lightened already since I have 
confided my trouble to you. I shall look forward to seeing you 
again this afternoon." She dropped her thick black veil over her 
face, and glided from the room. 

"And what do you think of it all, Watson?" asked Sherlock 
Holmes, leaning back in his chair. 

" It seems to me to be a most dark and sinister business." 

** Dark enough, and sinister enough." 

** Yet if the lady is correct in saying that the flooring and walls 
arc sound, and that the door, window, and chimney are impassable, 
then her sister must have been undoubtedly alone when she met her 
mysterious end." 

" What becomes, then, of these nocturnal whistles, and what of 
the very peculiar words of the dying woman ? " 

" I cannot think." 

" When you combine the ideas of whistles at night, the presence 
of a band of gipsies who are on intimate terms with this old Doctor, 
the fact that we have every reason to believe that the doctor has an 
interest in preventing his stepdaughter's marriage, the dying allusion 
to a band, and finally, the fact that Miss Helen Stoner heard a 
metallic clang, which might have been caused by one of those metal 
bars which secured the shutters falling back into their place, I think 
that there is good ground to think that the mystery may be cleared 
along those lines." 

" But what, then, did the gipsies do ? " 

** I cannot imagine." 

** I see many objections to any such theory." 

" And so do I. It is precisely for that reason that we are going 
to Stoke Moran this day. I want to see whether the objections are 
fatal, or if they may be explained away. But what, in the name of 
the devil ! " 

The ejaculation had been drawn from my companion by the fact 
that our door had been suddenly dashed open, and that a huge man 
framed himself in the aperture. His costume was a peculiar 
mixture of the professional and of the agricultural, having a black 
top hat, a long frock coat, and a pair of high gaiters, with a hunting* 



crop swinging in his hand. So tall was he that his hat actually 
brushed the cross bar of the doorway, and his breadth seemed to 
span it across from side to side. A large face, seared with a 
thousand wrinkles, burned yellow with the sun, and marked with 
every evil passion, was turned from one to the other of us, while his 
deep-set, bile-shot eyes, and his high thin fleshless nose, gave him 
somewhat the resemblance to a fierce old bird of prey. 

"Which of 3^ou 
this apparition. 

" My name, 
sir, but you have 
the advantage of 
me," said my com- 
panion, quietly. 

'' I am Dr. 
Grimesby Roylott, 
of Stoke Moran.'- 

" Indeed, Doc- 
tor," said Holmes, 
blandly. *' Pray 
take a seat." 

" I will do 
nothing of the 
kind. My step- 
daughter has been 
here. I have 
traced her. What 
has she been say- 
ing to you ? " 

*' It is a little cold for the time of the year," said Holmes. 

*' What has she been saying to you ? " screamed the old man 

*' But I have heard that the crocuses promise well," continued 
my companion imperturbably. 

" Ha ! You put me off, do you ? " said our new visitor, taking a 
step forward, and shaking his hunting-crop. '" I know you, you 
scoundrel ! I have heard of you before. You are Holmes the 




My friend smiled. 

" Holmes the busybod}' ! " 

His smile broadened. 

" Holmes the Scotland-yard Jack-in-officc." 

Holmes chuckled heartily. " Your conversation is most enter- 
taining," said he. ''When you go out close the door, for there is a 
decided draught." 

" I will go when I have had my say. Don't you dare to meddle 
with my affairs. I know that Miss Stoner has been here — I traced 
her ! I am a dangerous man to fall foul of ! See here." He 
stepped swiftly forward, seized the poker, and bent it into a curve 
with his huge brown hands. 

*' See that you keep yourself out of my grip," he snarled, and 
hurling the twisted poker into the fireplace, he strode out of the 

" He seems a very amiable person," said Holmes, laughing. " I 
am not quite so bulky, but if he had remained I might have shown 
him that my grip w^as not much more feeble than his own." As he 
spoke he picked up the steel poker, and with a sudden effort 
straightened it out again. 

'' Fancy his having the insolence to confound me with the official 
detective force ! This incident gives zest to our investigation, 
however, and I only trust that our little friend will not suffer from 
her imprudence in allowing this brute to trace her. And now, Wat- 
son, we shall order breakfast, and afterwards I shall walk down to 
Doctors' Commons, where 1 hope to get some data which may help 
us in this matter." 

It was nearly one o'clock when Sherlock Holmes returned from 
his excursion. He held in his hand a sheet of blue paper, scrawled 
over with notes and figures. 

" I have seen the will of the deceased wife," said he. " To de- 
termine its exact meaning I have been obliged to work out the 
present prices of the investments with which it is concerned. The 
total income, which at the time of the wife's death was little short 
of ^Tijioo, is now through the fall in agricultural prices not more 
than ;f750. Each daughter can claim an income of ^^250, in case 
of marriage. It is evident, therefore, that if both girls had married 
this beauty would have had a mere pittance, while even one of them 


would cripple him to a very serious extent. My morning's work has 
not heen wasted, since it has proved that he has the very strongest 
motives for standing in the way of anything of the sort. And now, 
Watson, this is too serious for dawdling, especially as the old man is 
aware that we are interesting ourselves in his affairs, so if you are 
ready we shall call a cab and drive to Waterloo. I should be very 
much obliged if you would slip your revolver into your pocket. An 
Eley's No. 2 is an excellent argument with gentlemen who can 
twist steel pokers into knots. That and a tooth-brush are, I think, 
all that we need." 

At Waterloo we were fortunate in catching a train for Leather- 
head, where we hired a trap at the station inn, and drove for four or 
live miles through the lovely Surrey lanes. It was a perfect day, 
with a bright sun and a few fleecy clouds in the heavens. The trees 
and wayside hedges w-ere just throwing out their first green shoots, 
and the air was full of the pleasant smell of the moist earth. To 
me at least there was a strange contrast between the sweet promise 
of the spring and this sinister quest upon which we were engaged. 
My companion sat in front of the trap, his arms folded, his hat 
pulled down over his eyes, and his chin sunk upon his breast, buried 
in the deepest thought. Suddenly, however, he started, tapped me 
on the shoulder, and pointed over the meadows. 

" Look there ! " said he. 

A heavily-timbered park stretched up in a gentle slope, thickening 
into a grove at the highest point. From amidst the branches there 
jutted out the grey gables and high roof-tree of a very old mansion. 

" Stoke Moran ?" said he. 

'* Yes, sir, that be the house of Dr. Grimesby Roylott," re- 
marked the driver. 

" There is some building going on there," said Holmes; "that 
is where we are going." 

" There's the village," said the driver, pointing to a cluster of 
roofs some distance to the left ; " but if you want to get to the 
house, you'll find it shorter to get over this stile, and so by the foot- 
path over the fields. There it is, where the lady is walking." 

"And the lady, I fancy, is Miss Stoner," observed Holmes, 
shading his eyes. " Yes, I think we had better do as you suggest." 

We got off, paid our fare, and the trap rattled back on its way 10 



" I thought it as well," said Holmes, as we climbed the stile, 
''that this fellow should think we had come here as architects, or on 
some definite business. It may stop his gossip. Good afternoon, 
Miss Stoner. You see that we have been as good as our word." 

Our client of the morning had hurried forward to meet us with a 
face which spoke her joy. *' I have been waiting so eagerly for 
you," she cried, shaking hands with us warmly. '' All has turned out 
splendidly. Dr. Roylott has gone to town, and it is unlikely that he 
will be back before evening." 

" We have had the pleasure of making the Doctor's acquaint- 


ance," said Holmes, and in a few words he sketched out what had 
occurred. Miss Stoner turned white to the lips as she listened. 

" Good heavens ! " she cried, " he has followed me, then." 

*' So it appears." 

*' He is so cunning that I never know when I am safe from him. 
What will he say when he returns ? " 

*' He must guard himself, for he may find that there is some one 
more cunning than himself upon his track. You must lock yourself 
up from him to-night. If he is violent, we shall take you away to 
your aunt's at Harrow. Now, we must make the best use of our time, 
so kindly take us at once to the rooms which we are to examine." 

The building was of grey, lichen-blotched stone, with a high 


central portion, and two curving wings, like the claws of a crab, 
thrown out on each side. In one of these wings the windows were 
broken, and blocked with wooden boards, while the roof was partly 
caved in, a picture of ruin. The central portion was in little better 
repair, but the right-hand block was comparatively modern, and the 
blinds in the windows, with the blue smoke curling up from the 
chimneys, showed that this was where the family resided. Some 
scaffolding had been erected against the end wall, and the stone- 
work had been broken into, but there were no signs of any work- 
men at the moment of our visit. Holmes walked slowly up and 
down the ill-trimmed lawn, and examined with deep attention the 
outsides of the windows. 

" This, I take it, belongs to the room in which you used to sleep, 
the centre one to your sister's, and the one next to the main build- 
ing to Dr. Roylott's chamber ? " 

" Exactly so. But I am now sleeping in the middle one." 
"Pending the alterations, as I understand. By the way, there 
does not seem to be any very pressing need for repairs at that end 

** There were none. I believe that it was an excuse to move me 
from my room." 

" Ah ! that is suggestive. Now, on the other side of this narrow 
wing runs the corridor from which these three rooms open. There 
are windows in it, of course ? " 

" Yes, but very small ones. Too narrow for any one to pass 

" As you both locked your doors at night your rooms were un- 
approachable from that side. Now, would you have the kindness to 
go into your room, and to bar your shutters." 

Miss Stoner did so, and Holmes, after a careful examination 
through the open window, endeavoured in every way to force the 
shutter open, but without success. There was no slit through which 
a knife could be passed to raise the bar. Then with his lens 
he tested the hinges, but they were of solid iron, built firmly into 
the massive masonry. '"' Hum ! " said he, scratching his chin 
in some perplexity, " my theory certainly presents some difficulties. 
No one could pass these shutters if they were bolted. Well, we 
shall see if the inside throws any light upon the matter." 

A small side-door led into the whitewashed corridor from which 


the three bedrooms opened. Holmes refused to examine the third 
chamber, so we passed at once to the second, that in which Miss 
Stoner was now sleeping, and in which her sister had met her fate. 
It was a homely little room, with a low ceiling and a gaping fire- 
place, after the fashion of old country houses. A brown chest of 
drawers stood in one corner, a narrow white-counterpaned bed in 
another, and a dressing-table on the left-hand side of the window. 
These articles, with two small wickerwork chairs, made up all the 
furniture in the room, save for a square of Wilton carpet in the 
centre. The boards round and tlie panelling of the walls were 
brown, worm-eaten oak, so old and discoloured that it may have 
dated from the original building of the house. Holmes drew one 
of the chairs into a corner and sat silent, while his eyes travelled 
round and round and up and down, taking in every detail of the 

" Where does that bell communicate with ? " he asked at last, 
pointing to a thick bell-rope which hung down beside the bed, the 
tassel actually lying upon the pillow. 
*' It goes to the housekeeper's room." 
" It looks newer than the other things ? " 
" Yes, it was only put there a couple of years ago." 
" Your sister asked for it, I suppose ? " 

" No, I never heard of her using it. We used always to get 
what we wanted for ourselves." 

** Indeed, it seemed unnecessary to put so nice a bell-pull there. 
You will excuse me for a few minutes while I satisfy myself as to 
this floor." He threw himself down upon his face with his lens in 
his hand, and crawled swiftly backwards and forwards, examining 
minutely the cracks between the boards. Then he did the same with 
the woodwork with which the chamber was panelled. Finally he 
walked over to the bed and spent some time in staring at it, and in 
running his eye up and down the wall. Finally he took the bell- 
rope in his hand and gave it a brisk tug. 
" Why, it's a dummy," said he. 
*' Won't it ring ? " 

''No, it is not even attached to a wire. This is very interest- 
ing. You can see now that it is fastened to a hook just above where 
the little opening of the ventilator is." 

" How very absurd ! I never noticed that before." 


'' Very strange ! " muttered Holmes, pulling at the rope, 
*' There are one or two very singular points about this room. For 
example, what a fool a builder must be to open a ventilator into 
another room, when, with the same trouble, he might have commu- 
nicated with the outside air! " 

" That is also quite modern," said the lady. 

*' Done about the same time as the bell-rope," remarked 

*' Yes, there were several little changes carried cut about that 

*' They seem to have been of a most interesting character — 
dummy bell-ropes, and ventilators which do not ventilate. With 
your permission. Miss Stoner, we shall now carry our researches 
into the inner apartment." 

Dr. Grimesby Roylott's chamber was larger than that of his step- 
daughter, but was as plainly furnished. A camp bed, a small 
wooden shelf full of books, mostly of a technical character, an arm- 
chair beside the bed, a plain wooden chair against the wall, a round 
table, and a large iron safe were the principal things which met the 
eye. Holmes walked slowly round and examined each and all of 
them with the keenest interest. 

" What's in here ? " he asked, tapping the safe. 
'* My stepfather's business papers." 
" Oh ! you have seen inside, then ? " 

" Only once, some years ago. I remember that it was full of 

" There isn't a cat in it, for example ? " 
" No. What a strange idea ! " 

" Well, look at this ! " He took up a small saucer of milk which 
stood on the top of it. 

" No ; we don't keep a cat. But there is a cheetah and a 

*' Ah, yes, of course ! Well, a cheetah is just a big cat, and yet a 
saucer of milk does not go very far in satisfying its wants, I daresay. 
There is one point which I should wish to determine." He squatted 
down in front of the wooden chair, and examined the seat of it with 
the greatest attention. 

*' Thank you. That is quite settled," said he, rising and putting 
his lens in his pocket. " Hullo ! here is something interesting ! " 



Tlie object which had caught his eye was a small doo; lash hung 
on one corner of the bed. The lash, however, was curled upon 
itself, and tied so as to make a loop of whipcord. 

" What do you make of that, Watson ? " 

" It's a common enough lash. But I don't know why it should 
be tied." 

" That is not quite so common, is it ? Ah, me ! it's a wicked 
world, and when a clever man turns his brains to crime it is the 
worst of all. I think that I have seen enough now, Miss Stoner, 
and, with your permission, we shall walk out upon the lawn.*' 


I had never seen my friend's face so grim, or his brow so dark, 
as it was when we turned from the scene of this investigation. We 
had walked several times up and dowm the lawn, neither Miss 
Stoner nor myself liking to break in upon his thoughts before he 
roused himself from his reverie. 

*' It is very essential. Miss Stoner," said he, " that you should 
absolutely follow my advice in every respect." 

'* I shall most certainly do so." 

"The matter is too serious for any hesitation. Your life may 
depend upon your compliance." 

*' I assure you that I am in your hands." 


'*In the first place, both my friend and I must spend the night 
in your room." 

Both Miss Stoner and I gazed at him in astonishment. 
** Yes, it must be so. Let me explain. I believe that that is 
the village inn over there ? " 
*' Yes, that is the ' Crown.'" 

** Very good. Your windows would be visible from there ? " 

'' You must confine yourself to your room, on pretence of a head- 
ache, when your stepfather comes back. Then when you hear him 
retire for the night, you must open the shutters of your window, 
undo the hasp, put your lamp there as a signal to us, and then with- 
draw with everything which you are likely to want into the room 
which you used to occupy. I have no doubt that, in spite of the 
repairs, you could manage there for one night." 
** Oh, yes, easily." 

** The rest you will leave in our hands." 
" But what will you do ? " 

"We shall spend the night in your room, and we shall investi- 
gate the cause of this noise which has disturbed you." 

'• I believe, Mr. Holmes, that you have already made up your 
mind," said Miss Stoner, laying her hand upon my companion's 

" Perhaps I have." 

" Then for pity's sake tell me what was the cause of my sister's 

*' I should prefer to have clearer proofs before I speak." 
" You can at least tell me whether my own thought is correct, 
and if she died from some sudden fright." 

'' No, I do not think so. I think that there was probably some 
more tangible cause. And now, Miss Stoner, we must leave you, for 
if Dr. Roylott returned and saw us, our journey would be in vain. 
Good-bye, and be brave, for if you will do what I have told you, you 
may rest assured that we shall soon drive away the dangers that 
threaten you." 

Sherlock Holmes and I had no difficulty in engaging a bedroom 
and sitting-room at the *' Crown " Inn. They were on the upper 
floor, and from our window we could command a view of the avenue 
gate, and of the inhabited wing of Stoke Moran Manor House. At 



dusk we saw Dr. Grimesby Roylott drive past, his huge form loom- 
ing up beside the little figure of the lad who drove him. The boy 
had some slight difficulty in undoing the heavy iron gates, and we 
heard the hoarse roar of the Doctor's voice, and saw the fury with 
which he shook his clenched fists at him. The trap drove on, and 

a few minutes later 
we saw a sudden 
light spring up 
among the trees as 
the lamp was lit in 
one of the sitting- 

" Do you know, 
Watson," said 
Holmes, as we sat 
together in the 
gathering dark- 
ness, " I have 
really some 
scruples as to 
takingyou to-night. 
There is a distinct 
element of danger." 
''Can I be of 
assistance ? " 

"Your presence 
might be invalu- 

''Then I shall 
certainly come." 

" It is very kind 
of you." 

" You speak of 
danger. You have 
evidently seen more in these rooms than was visible to me." 

" No, but I fancy that I may have deduced a little more. I 
imagine that you saw all that I did." 

" I saw nothing remarkable save the bell rope, and what purpose 
that could answer I confess is more than I can imagine." 




'' You saw the ventilator, too ? " 

" Yes, but I do not think that it is such a very unusual thing to 
have a small opening between two rooms. It was so small that a 
rat could hardly pass through." 

" I knew that we should find a ventilator before ever we came to 
Stoke Moran." 

'' My dear Holmes ! " 

'* Oh, yes, I did. You remember in her statement she said that 
her sister could smell Dr. Roylott's cigar. Now, of course that 
suggests at once that there must be a communication between the 
two rooms. It could only be a small one, or it would have been 
remarked upon at the Coroner's inquiry. I deduced a ventilator." 

** But what harm can there be in that ? " 

" Well, there is at least a curious coincidence of dates. A 
ventilator is made, a cord is hung, and a lady who sleeps in the bed 
dies. Does not that strike you ? " 

" I cannot as yet see any connection." 

*' Did you observe anything very peculiar about that bed ? " 


" It was clamped to the floor. Did you ever see a bed fastened 
like that before ? " 

" I cannot say that I have." 

*' The lady could not move her bed. It must always be in the 
same relative position to the ventilator and to the rope — for so we 
may call it, since it was clearly never meant for a bell-pull." 

*' Holmes," I cried, '' I seem to see dimly v/hat you are hinting 
at. We are only just in time to prevent some subtle and horrible 

" Subtle enough, and horrible enough. When a doctor does go 
wrong, he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has 
knowledge. Palmer and Pritchard were among the heads of their 
profession. This man strikes even deeper, but I think, Watson, that 
we shall be able to strike deeper still. But we shall have horrors 
enough before the night is over ; for goodness' sake let us have a 
quiet pipe, and turn our minds for a few hours to something more 

About nine o'clock the light among the trees was extinguished, 
and all was dark in the direction of the Manor House. Two hours 


passed slowly away, and then, suddenly, just at the stroke of eleven, 
a single bright light shone out right in front of us. 

*' That is our signal," said Holmes, springing to his feet ; " it 
comes from the middle window." 

As we passed out he exchanged a few words with the landlord, 
explaining that we were going on a late visit to an acquaintance, 
and that it was possible that we might spend the night there. A 
moment later we were out on the dark road, a chill wind blowing in 
our faces, and one yellow light twinkling in front of us through the 
gloom to guide us on our sombre errand. 

There was little difficulty in entering the grounds, for unrepaired 
breaches gaped in the old park wall. Making our way among the 
trees, we reached the lawn, crossed it, and were about to enter through 
the window, when out from a clump of laurel bushes there darted 
what seemed to be a hideous and distorted child, who threw itself on 
the grass with wTithing limbs, and then ran swiftly across the lawn 
into the darkness. 

*' My God ! " I whispered ; '' did you see it ? " 

Holmes was for the m.oment as startled as I. His hand closed 
like a vice upon my wTist in his agitation. Then he broke into a 
low laugh, and put his lips to my ear. 

"It is a nice household," he murmured. ''That is the 

I had forgotten the strange pets which the Doctor affected. 
There was a cheetah, too ; perhaps we might find it upon our 
shoulders at any moment. I confess that I felt easier in my mind 
when, after following Holmes' example and slipping off my shoes, I 
found myself inside the bedroom. My companion noiselessly closed 
the shutters, moved the lamp on to the table, and cast his eyes round 
the room. All was as we had seen it in the day-time. Then creep- 
ing up to me and making a trumpet of his hand, he whispered into 
my ear again so gently that it was all that I could do to distinguish 
the words — 

"The least sound would be fatal to our plans." 

I nodded to show that I had heard. 

*' We must sit without a light. He would see it through the 

I nodded again. 

" Do not go asleep ; your very life may depend upon it. Have 


your pistol ready in case we should need it. I will sit on the side 
of the bed, and you in that chair." 

I took out my revolver and laid it on the corner of the table. 

Holmes had brought up along thin cane, and this he placed upon 
the bed beside him. By it he laid the box of matches and the stump 
of a candle. Then he turned down the lamp, and we were left in 

How shall I ever forget that dreadful vigil ? I could not hear a 
sound, not even the drawing of a breath, and yet I knew that my 
companion sat open-eyed, within a few feet of me, in the same state 
of nervous tension in which I was myself. The shutters cut off the 
least ray of light, and we waited in absolute darkness. From out- 
side came the occasional cry of a night bird, and once at our very 
window a long drawn, cat-like whine, which told us that the cheetah 
was indeed at liberty. Far away we could hear the deep tones of 
the parish clock, which boomed out every quarter of an hour. How 
long they seemed, those quarters! Twelve struck, and one, and 
two, and three, and still we sat waiting silently for whatever might 

Suddenly there was the momentary gleam of a light up in the 
direction of the ventilator, which vanished immediately, but was 
succeeded by a strong smell of burning oil and heated metal. Some 
one in the next room had lit a dark lantern. I heard a gentle sound 
of movement, and then all was silent once more, tho'jgh the smell 
grew stronger. For half an hour I sat with straining ears. Then 
suddenly another sound became audible — a very gentle, soothing 
sound, like that of a small jet of steam escaping continually from a 
kettle. The instant that we heard it, Holmes sprang from the bed, 
struck a match, and lashed furiously with his cane at the bell-pull. 

" You see it, Watson ? " he yelled. '' You see it ? " 

But I saw nothing. At the moment when Holmes struck the 
light I heard a low, clear whistle, but the sudden glare flashing into 
my weary eyes made it impossible for me to tell what it was at which 
my friend lashed so savagely. I could, however, see that his face 
was deadly pale, and filled with horror and loathing. 

He had ceased to strike, and was gazing up at the ventilator, 
when suddenly there broke from the silence of the night the most 
horrible cry to which I have ever listened. It swelled up louder and 
louder, a hoarse yell of pain and fear and anger all mingled in the 



one dreadful shriek. They say that away down in the village, and 
even in the distant parsonage, that cry raised the sleepers from their 
beds. It struck cold to our hearts, and I stood gazing at Holmes, 
and he at me, until the last echoes of it had died away into the 
silence from which it rose. 

" What can it mean ? " I gasped. 

"It means that it is all over," Holmes answered. ''And per- 
haps, after all, it is for the best. Take your pistol, and we shall 
enter Dr. Roylott's room." 


J " 

With a grave face he lit the lamp, and led the way down the 
corridor. Twice he struck at the chamber door without any reply 
fr(3m within. Then he turned the handle and entered, I at his heels. 
with the cocked pistol in my hand. 

It was a singular sight which met our eyes. On the table stood 
a dark lantern with the shutter half open, throwing a brilliant beam 
of light upon the iron safe, the door of which was ajar. Beside this 
table, on the wooden chair, sat Dr. Grimesby Roylott, clad in a long 



grey dressing-gown, his bare ankles protruding beneath, and his feet 
thrust into red heelless Turkish slippers. Across his lap lay the 
short stock with the long lash which we had noticed during the da}^ 
His chin was cocked upwards, and his eyes were fixed in a dreadful 
rigid stare at the corner of the ceiling. Round his brow he had a 
peculiar yellow band, with brownish speckles, which seemed to be 
bound tightly round his head. As we entered he made neither sound 
nor motion. 


*' The band ! the speckled band ! " whispered Holmes. 

I took a step forward. In an instant his strange headgear began 
to move, and there reared itself from among his hair the squat 
diamond-shaped head and puffed neck of a loathsome serpent. 

" It is a swamp adder ! " cried Holmes — '' the deadliest snake in 
India. He has died within ten seconds of being bitten. Violence 
does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the 
pit which he digs for another. Let us thrust this creature back into 
its den, and we can then remove Miss Stoner to some place of shelter, 
and let the county police know what has happened." 

As he spoke he drew the dog whip swiftly from the dead man's 
lap, and throwing the noose round the reptile's neck, he drew it from 


its horrid perch, and, carrying it at arm's length threw it into the 
iron safe, which he closed upon it. 

Such are the true facts of the death of Dr. Grimesby Roylott, of 
Stoke Moran. It is not necessary that I should prolong a narrative 
which has already run to too great a length, by telling how we broke 
the sad news to the terrified girl, how we conveyed her by the morn- 
ing train to the care of her good aunt at Harrow, of how the slow 
process of official inquiry came to the conclusion that the Doctor 
met his fate while indiscreetly playing with a dangerous pet. The 
little which I had yet to learn of the case was told me by Sherlock 
Holmes as we travelled back next day. 

"I had," said he, " come to an entirely erroneous conclusion, 
which shows, my dear Watson, how dangerous it always is to reason 
from insufficient data. The presence of the gipsies, and the use of 
the word 'band,' which was used by the poor girl, no doubt, to 
explain the appearance which she had caught a hurried glimpse of 
by the light of her match, were sufficient to put me upon an entirely 
wrong scent. I can only claim the merit that I instantly recon- 
sidered my position when, however, it became clear to me that what- 
ever danger threatened an occupant of the room could not come 
either from the window or the door. My attention was speedily 
drawn, as I have already remarked to you, to this ventilator, and to 
the bell rope which hung down to the bed. The discovery that this 
was a dummy, and that the bed was clamped to the floor, instantly 
gave rise to the suspicion that the rope was there as a bridge for 
something passing through the hole, and coming to the bed. The 
idea of a snake instantly occurred to me, and when I coupled it 
with my knowledge that the Doctor was furnished with a supply of 
creatures from India, I felt that I was probably on the right track. 
The idea of using a form of poison which could not possibly be dis- 
covered by any chemical test was just such a one as would occur to 
a clever and ruthless man who had had an Eastern training. The 
rapidity with which such a poison would take effect would also, from 
his point of view, be an advantage. It would be a sharp-eyed 
coroner indeed who could distinguish the two little dark punctures 
which would show where the poison fangs had done their work. 
Then I thought of the whistle. Of course, he must recall the snake 
before the morning light revealed it to the victim. He had trained 


it, probably by the use of the milk which we saw, to return to him 
when summoned. He would put it through this ventilator at the 
hour that he thought best, with the certainty that it would crawl 
down the rope, and land on the bed. It might or might not bite the 
occupant, perhaps she might escape every night for a week, but 
sooner or later she must fall a victim. 

** I had come to these conclusions before ever I had entered his 
room. An inspection of his chair showed me that he had been in 
the habit of standing on it, which, of course, would be necessary in 
order that he should reach the ventilator. The sight of the safe, the 
saucer of milk, and the loop of whipcord were enough to finally dispel 
any doubts which may have remained. The metallic clang heard by 
Miss Stoner was obviously caused by her father hastily closing the 
door of his safe upon its terrible occupant. Having once made up 
my mind, you know the steps which I took in order to put the matter 
to the proof. I heard the creature hiss, as I have no doubt that you 
did also, and I instantly lit the light and attacked it." 
" With the result of driving it through the ventilator." 
" And also with the result of causing it to turn upon its master 
at the other side. Some of the blows of my cane came home, and 
roused its snakish temper, so that it flew upon the first person it saw. 
In this way I am no doubt indirectly responsible for Dr. Grimesby 
Roylott's death, and I cannot say that it is likely to weigh very 
heavily upon my conscience." 




F all the problems which have been submitted to my 
friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes for solution during the 
years of our intimacy, there were only two which 
I was the means of introducing to his notice, 
that of Mr. Ilatherley's thumb and that of Colonel 
Warburton's madness. Of these the latter may have afforded a 
finer field for an acute and original observer, but the other was 
so strange in its inception and so dramatic in its details, that it 
may be the more worthy of being placed upon record, even if it 
gave my friend fewer openings for those deductive methods of 
reasoning by which he achieved such remarkable results. The 
story has, I believe, been told more than once in the newspapers, 
but, like all such narratives, its effect is much less striking when 
set forth en bloc in a single half-column of print than when the 
facts slowly evolve before your own eyes and the mystery clears 
gradually away as each new discovery furnishes a step which 
leads on to the complete truth. At the time the circumstances 
made a deep impression upon me, and the lapse of two years has 
hardly served to weaken the effect. 

It was in the summer of '89, not long after my marriage, that 
the events occurred which I am now about to summarise. I had 
returned to civil practice, and had finally abandoned Holmes in 
his Baker-street rooms, although I continually visited him, and 
occasionally even persuaded him to forego his Bohemian habits 
so far as to come and visit us. My practice had steadily increased, 
and as I happened to live at no very great distance from Padding- 
ton Station, I got a few patients from among the officials. One 
of these whom I had cured of a painful and lingering disease, w^as 
never weary of advertising my virtues, and of endeavouring to send 
me on every sufferer over whom he might have any influence. 


One morning, at a little before seven o'clock, I was awakened 
by the maid tapping at the door, to announce that two men had 
come from Paddington, and were waiting in the consulting room. 
I dressed hurriedly, for I knew by experience that railway cases 
were seldom trivial, and hastened downstairs. As I descended, 
my old ally, the guard, came out of the room, and closed the door 
tightly behind him. 

" I've got him here," he whispered, jerking his thumb over his 
shoulder; " he's all right." 

" What is it, then ? " I asked, for his manner suggested that 
it was some strange creature which he had caged up in my room. 

*' It's a new patient," he whispered. ''I thought I'd bring 
him round myself; then he couldn't slip away. There he is, all 
safe and sound. I must go now, doctor, I have my dooties, just 
the same as you." And off he went, this trusty tout, without 
even giving me time to thank him. 

" I entered. my consulting room, and found a gentleman seated 
by the table. He was quietly dressed in a suit of heather tweed, 
with a soft cloth cap, which he had laid down upon my books. 
Round one of his hands he had a handkerchief wrapped, which 
was mottled all over with bloodstains. He was young, not more 
than five-and-twenty, I should say, with a strong masculine face; 
but he was exceedingly pale, and gave me the impression of a 
man who was suffering from some strong agitation, which it took 
all his strength of mind to control. 

" I am sorry to knock you up so early, Doctor," said he. '*' But 
I have had a very serious accident during the night. I came in 
by train this morning, and on inquiring at Paddington as to where 
I might find a doctor a worthy fellow very kindly escorted me here. 
I gave the maid a card, but I see that she has left it upon the 
side table." 

I took it up and glanced at it. " Mr. Victor Hatherley, 
hydraulic engineer, i6a, Victoria-street (3rd floor)." That was 
the name, style, and abode of my morning visitor. *' I regret 
that I have kept you waiting," said I, sitting down in my library 
chair. " You are fresh from a night journey, I understand, which 
is in itself a monotonous occupation." 

" Oh, my night could not be called monotonous," said he, and 
laughed. He laughed very heartily, with a high ringing note, 



leaning back in his chair, and shaking his sides. All my medical 
instincts rose up against that laugh. 

" Stop it ! " I cried. '' Pull yourself together ! " and I poured 
out some water from a caraffe. 

It was useless, however. He was off in one of those hysterical 
outbursts which come upon a strong nature when some great 
crisis is over and gone. Presently he came to himself once more, 
very weary and blushing hotly. 


** I have been making a fool of myself," he gasped. 

** Not at all. Drink this ! " I dashed some brandy into the 
water, and the colour began to come back to his bloodless cheeks. 

*' That's better!" said he. ''And now. Doctor, perhaps you 
would kindly attend to my thumb, or rather to the place where 
my thumb used to be." 

He unwound the handkerchief and held out his hand. It gave 
even my hardened nerves a shudder to look at it. There were 


four protruding fingers and a horrid red spongy surface where 
the thumb should have been. It had been hacked or torn right 
out from the roots. 

*' Good heavens ! " I cried, ** this is a terrible injury. It must 
have bled considerably." 

*' Yes, it did. I fainted when it was done ; and I think that 
I must have been senseless for a long time. When I came to, 
I found that it was still bleeding, so I tied one end of my hand- 
kerchief very tightly round the wrist, and braced it up with a twig." 

*' Excellent ! You should have been a surgeon." 

" It is a question of hydraulics, you see, and came within my 
own province." 

** This has been done," said I, examining the wound, " by a 
very heavy and sharp instrument." 

" A thing like a cleaver," said he. 

" An accident, I presume ? " 

*' By no means." 

" What, a murderous attack ! " 

*' Very murderous indeed." 

** You horrify me." 

I sponged the wound, cleaned it, dressed it; and, finally, 
covered it over with cotton wadding and carbolised bandages. 
He lay back without wincing, though he bit his lip from time 
to time. 

" How is that ? " I asked, when I had finished. 

" Capital ! Between your brandy and your bandage, I feel a 
new man. I was very weak, but I have had a good deal to go 

" Perhaps you had better not speak of the matter. It is 
evidently trying to your nerves." 

*' Oh, no; not now. I shall have to tell my tale to the police ; 
but, between ourselves, if it were not for the convincing evidence 
of this wound of mine, I should be surprised if they believed my 
statement, for it is a very extraordinary one, and I have not much 
in the w^ay of proof with which to back it up. And, even if they 
believe me, the clues which I can give them are so vague that it 
is a question whether justice will be done." 

*' Ha ! " cried I, " if it is anything in the nature of a problem 
which you desire to see solved, I should strongly recommend >ou 


to come to my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes before you go to the 
official police." 

"Oh, I have heard of that fellow," answered my visitor, *' and 
I should be very glad if he would take the matter up, though of 
course I must use the official police as well. Would you give me 
an introduction to him ? " 

'* ril do better. I'll take you round to him myself." 

" I should be immensely obliged to you." 

*' We'll call a cab and go together. We shall just be in time 
to have a little breakfast with him. Do you feel equal to it ? " 

** Yes, I shall not feel easy until I have told my story." 

"Then my servant will call a cab, and I shall be with 3'ou in 
an instant." I rushed upstairs, explained the matter shortly to 
my wife, and in five minutes was inside a hansom, driving with 
my new acquaintance to Baker-street. 

Sherlock Holmes was, as I expected, lounging about his sitting- 
room in his dressing-gown, reading the agony column of The 
Times, and smoking his before-breakfast pipe, which was composed 
of all the plugs and dottels left from his smokes of the day 
before, all carefully dried and collected on the corner of the 
mantelpiece. He received us in his quietly genial fashion, ordered 
fresh rashers and eggs, and joined us in a hearty meal. When 
it was concluded he settled our new acquaintance upon the sofa, 
placed a pillow beneath his head, and laid a glass of brandy and 
water within his reach. 

"It is easy to see that your experience has been no common one, 
Mr. Hatherley," said he. " Pray lie down there and make your- 
self absolutely at home. Tell us what you can, but stop when 
you are tired, and keep up your strength with a little stimulant." 

" Thank you," said my patient, " but I have felt another man 
since the doctor bandaged me, and I think that your breakfast has 
completed the cure. I shall take up as little of your valuable 
time as possible, so I shall start at once upon my peculiar 

Holmes sat in his big armchair with the wear}', heavy-lidded 
expression which veiled his keen and eager nature, while I sat 
opposite to him, and we listened in silence to the strange story 
which our visitor detailed to us. 

"You must know," said he, "that I am an orphan and a 



bachelor, residing alone in lodgings in London. By profession I 
am a hydraulic engineer, and I have had considerable experience 
of my work during the seven years that I was apprenticed to Venner 
and Matheson, the well-known firm of Greenwich. Two years ago, 
having served my time, and having also come into a fair sum of 
money through my poor father's death, I determined to start in 
business for myself, and took professional chambers in Victoria- 

" I suppose that every one finds his first independent start in 


business a dreary experience. To me it has been exceptionally so. 
During two years I have had three consultations and one small job, 
and that is absolutely all that my profession has brought me. 
My gross takings amount to twenty-seven pounds ten. Every day, 
from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon, I waited in my 
little den, until at last my heart began to sink, and I came to believe 
that I should never have any practice at all. 

** Yesterday, however, just as I was thinking of leaving the 
office, my clerk entered to say there was a gentleman waiting who 
wished to see me upon business. He brought up a card, too, with 



the name of ' Colonel Lysander Stark ' engraved upon it. Close 
at his heels came the Colonel himself, a man rather over the middle 
size but of an exceeding thinness. I do not think that I have ever 
seen so thin a man. His whole face sharpened away into nose and 
chin, and the skin of his cheeks was drawn quite tense over his out- 
standing bones. Yet this emaciation seemed to be his natural 
habit, and due to no disease, for his eye was bright, his step brisk, 

and his bearing assured. He was 
plainly but neatly dressed, and his 
age, I should judge, would be nearer 
forty than thirty. 

"*Mr. Hatherley?' said he, with 
something of a German accent. 
* You have been recommended to 
me, Mr. Hatherley, as being a man 
who is not only proficient in his 
profession, but is also discreet and 
capable of preserving a secret.' 

" I bowed, feeling as flattered as 
any young man would at such an 
address. ' May I ask who it was 
who gave me so good a character ? ' 
I asked. 

*' * Well, perhaps it is better that 
I should not tell you just at this 
moment. I have it from the same 
source that you are both an orphan 
^ and a bachelor, and are residing 
alone in London.' 

"'That is quite correct,' I an- 
swered, * but you will excuse me if 
I say that I cannot see how all this bears upon my professional 
qualifications. I understood that it was on a professional matter 
that you wished to speak to me ? ' 

"* Undoubtedly so. But you will find that all I say is really 
to the point. I have a professional commission for you, but absolute 
secrecy is quite essential — absolute secrecy, you understand, and 
of course we may expect that more from a man who is alone than 
from one who lives in the bosom of his family.' 




** * If I promise to keep a secret,' said I, ' you may absolutely 
depend upon my doing so.' 

**He looked very hard at me as I spoke, and it seemed to me that 
I had never seen so suspicious and questioning an eye. 

" ' You do promise, then ? ' said he at last. 

** * Yes, I promise.' 

'"Absolute and complete silence, before, during, and after? 
No reference to the matter at all, either in word or writing:? ' 

*' ' I have already'given you my word.' 

*' ' Very good.' He suddenly sprang up, and darting like light- 
ning across the room he flung open the door. The passage outside 
was empty. 

** ' That's all right,' said he, coming back. ' I know that clerks 
are sometimes curious as to their master's affairs. Now we can 
talk in safety.' He drew up his chair very close to mine, and began 
to stare at me again with the same questioning and thoughtful look. 

***A feeling of repulsion, and of something akin to fear had 
begun to rise within me at the strange antics of this fleshless man. 
Even my dread of losing a client could not restrain me from showing 
my impatience. 

" ' I beg that you will state your business, sir,' said I ; ' my time 
is of value.' Heaven forgive me for that last sentence, but the 
words came to my lips. 

" ' How would fifty guineas for a night's work suit you ? ' he 

'•' * Most admirably.' 

*' * I say a night's work, but an hour's would be nearer the mark. 
I simply want 3/our opinion about a hydraulic stamping machine 
which has got out of gear. If you show us what is wrong we shall 
soon set it right ourselves. What do you think of such a commis- 
sion as that ? ' 

'' ' The work appears to be light, and the pay munificent.' 

*' ' Precisely so. We shall want you to come to-night by the 
last train.' 


" ' To Eyford, in Berkshire. It is a little place near the borders 
of Oxfordshire, and within seven miles of Reading. There is a 
train from Paddington which would bring you in there at about 
eleven fifteen.' 


" ' Very good.' 

" ' I shall come down in a carriage to meet you/ 

'* ' There is a drive, then ? ' 

*' ' Yes, our little place is quite out in the country. It is a good 
seven miles from Eyford Station.' 

" ' Then we can hardly get there before midnight. I suppose 
there would be no chance of a train back. I should be compelled 
to stop the night.' 

" ' Yes, we could easily give you a shakedo^yn.' 

** * That is very awkward. Could I not come at some more 
convenient hour ? ' 

** * We have judged it best that you should come late. It is to 
recompense you for any inconvenience that we are paying you, 
a young and unknown man, a fee which would buy an opinion from 
the very heads of your profession. Still, of course, if you would like 
to draw out of the business, there is plenty of time to do so.' 

" I thought of the fifty guineas, and of how very useful they 
w^ould be to me. ' Not at all,' said I, ' I shall be very happy to 
accommodate myself to your wishes. I should like, however, to 
understand a little more clearly what it is that you wish me to do.' 

" 'Quite so. It is very natural that the pledge of secrecy which 
we have exacted from you should have aroused your curiosity. 
I have no wish to commit you to anything without your having 
it all laid before you. I suppose that we are absolutely safe from 
eavesdroppers ? ' 

'' ' Entirely.' 

*' ' Then the matter stands thus. You are probably aware that 
fuller's earth is a valuable product, and that it is only found in one 
or two places in England ? ' 

*•' ' I have heard so.' 

** ' Some little time ago I bought a small place — a very small 
place — within ten miles of Reading. I was fortunate enough to 
discover that there was a deposit of fuller's earth in one of my 
fields. On examining it, however, I found that this deposit was 
a comparatively small one, and that it formed a link between two 
very much larger ones upon the right and the left — both of them, 
however, in the grounds of my neighbours. These good people 
were absolutely ignorant that their land contained that which was 
quite as valuable as a gold mine. Naturally, it was to my interest 


to buy their land before they discovered its true value ; but, unfor- 
tunately, I had no capital by which I could do this. I took a few 
of my friends into the secret, however, and they suggested that 
we should quietly and secretly work our own little deposit, and that 
in this way we should earn the money which would enable us to 
buy the neighbouring fields. This we have now been doing for 
some time, and in order to help us in our operations we erected 
a hydraulic press. This press, as I have already explained, has got 
out of order, and we wish your advice upon the subject. We guard 
our secret very jealously, however, and if it once became known that 
we had hydraulic engineers coming to our little house, it would 
soon rouse inquiry, and then, if the facts came out, it would be 
good-bye to any chance of getting these fields and carrying out our 
plans. That is why I have made you promise me that you will not 
tell a human being that you are going to Eyford to-night. I hope 
that I make it all plain ? ' 

** * I quite follow you,' said I. * The only point which I could 
not quite understanJ, was what use you could make of a hydraulic 
press in excavating fuller's earth, which, as I understand, is dug out 
like gravel from a pit.' 

" * Ah ! ' said he, carelessly, * we have our own process. We 
compress the earth into bricks, so as to remove them without 
revealing what they are. But that is a mere detail. I have taken 
you fully into my confidence now, Mr. Hatherley, and I have shown 
you how I trust you.' He rose as he spoke. ' I shall expect you, 
then, at Eyford at 11.15.' 

*' ' I shall certainly be there.' 

** ' And not a word to a soul.' He looked at me with a last long, 
questioning gaze, and then, pressing my hand in a cold, dank 
grasp, he hurried from the room. 

*' Well, when I came to think it all over in cool blood I was very 
much astonished, as you may both think, at this sudden com- 
mission which had been entrusted to me. On the one hand, 
of course, I was glad, for the fee was at least tenfold what I 
should have asked had I set a price upon my own services, 
and it was possible that this order might lead to other ones. On 
the other hand, the face and manner of my patron had made 
an unpleasant impression upon me, and I could not think that his 
explanation of the fuller's earth was sufficient to explain the neces- 



sity for my coming at midnight, and his extreme anxiety lest I 
should tell any one of my errand. However, I threw all my fears 
to the winds, ate a hearty supper, drove to Paddington, and started 
off, having obeyed to the letter the injunction as to holding my 


" ' NOT A WORD TO A SOUL ! ' " 

" At Reading I had to change not only my carriage but my 
station. However, I was in time for the last train to Eyford, and 
I reached the little dim-lit station after eleven o'clock. I was the 
only passenger who got out there, and there was no one upon the 
platform save a single sleepy porter with a lantern. As I passed 


out through the wicket gate, however, I found my acquaintance 
of the morning waiting in the shadow upon the other side. Without 
a word he grasped my arm and hurried me into a carriage, the door 
of which was standing open. He drew up the windows on either 
side, tapped on the woodwork, and away we went as hard as the 
horse could go." 

*' One horse ? " interjected Holmes. 

** Yes, only one." 

*' Did you observe the colour ? " 

" Yes, I saw it by the sidelights when I was stepping into the 
carriage. It was a chestnut." 

" Tired-looking or fresh ? " 

" Oh, fresh and glossy." 

" Thank you. I am sorry to have interrupted you. Pray con- 
tinue your most interesting statement." 

**Away we went then, and we drove for at least an hour. 
Colonel Lysander Stark had said that it was only seven miles, but 
I should think, from the rate that we seemed to go, and from the 
time that we took, that it must have been nearer twelve. He sat 
at my side in silence all the time, and I was aware, more than once 
when I glanced in his direction, that he was looking at me with 
great intensity. The country roads seem to be not very good in 
that part of the world, for we lurched and jolted terribly. I tried 
to look out of the windows to see something of where we w^ere, but 
they were made of frosted glass, and I could make out nothing save 
the occasional blurr of a passing light. Now and then I hazarded 
some remark to break the monotony of the journey, but the Colonel 
answered only in monosyllables, and the conversation soon flagged. 
At last, however, the bumping of the road was exchanged for the 
crisp smoothness of a gravel drive, and the carriage came to a 
stand. Colonel Lysander Stark sprang out, and, as I followed 
after him, pulled me swiftly into a porch which gaped in front 
of us. We stepped, as it were, right out of the carriage and into 
the hall, so that I failed to catch the most fleeting glance of the 
front of the house. The instant that I had crossed the threshold 
the door slammed heavily behind us, and I heard faintly the rattle 
of the wheels as the carriage drove away. 

" It was pitch dark inside the house, and the Colonel fumbled 
about looking for matches, and muttering under his breath. Sud- 


denly a door opened at the other end of the passage, and a long, 
golden bar of light shot out in our direction. It grew broader, and 
a woman appeared with a lamp in her hand, which slie held above 
her head, pushing her face forward and peering at us. I could see 
that she was pretty, and from the gloss with which the light shone 
upon her dark dress I knew that it was a rich material. She spoke 
a few words in a foreign tongue in a tone as though asking a 
question, and when my companion answered in a gruff monosyllable 
she gave such a start that the lamp nearly fell from her hand. 
Colonel Stark went up to her, whispered something in her ear, and 
then, pushing her back into the room from whence she had come, 
he walked towards me again with the lamp in his hand. 

" ' Perhaps you will have the kindness to wait in this room for 
a few minutes,' said he, throwing open another door. It was a 
quiet little, plainly furnished room, with a round table in the centre, 
on which several German books were scattered. Colonel Stark laid 
down the lamp on the top of a harmonium beside the door. * I 
shall not keep you waiting an instant,' said he, and vanished into 
the darkness. 

*' I glanced at the books upon the table, and in spite of my 
ignorance of German I could see that two of them were treatises 
on science, the others being volumes of poetry. Then I walked 
across to the window, hoping that I might catch some glimpse 
of the country side, but an oak shutter, heavily barred, was folded 
across it. It was a wonderfully silent house. There was an old 
clock ticking loudly somewhere in the passage, but otherwise every- 
thing was deadly still. A vague feeling of uneasiness began to steal 
over me. Who were these German people, and what were they 
doing, living in this strange, out-of-the-way place ? And where 
was the place ? I was ten miles or so from Eyford, that was all 
I knew, but whether north, south, east, or west I had no idea. For 
that matter, Reading, and possibly other large towns, were within 
that radius, so the place might not be so secluded after all. Yet 
it was quite certain from the absolute stillness that we were in the 
country. I paced up and down the room, humming a tune under 
my breath to keep up my spirits, and feeling that I was thoroughly 
earning my fifty-guinea fee. 

** Suddenly, without any preliminary sound in the midst of the 
utter stillness, the door of my room swung slowly open. The 



woman was standing in the aperture, the darkness of the hall 
behind her, the yellow light from my lamp beating upon her eager 
and beautiful face. I could see at a glance that she was sick with 
fear, and the sight sent a chill to my own heart. She held up one 
shaking finger to warn me to be silent, and she shot a few whispered 
words of broken English at me, her eyes glancing back, like those 
of a frightened horse, into the gloom behind her, 

*''I would go,' 
said she, trying hard, 
as it seemed to me, 
to speak calmJy ; * I 
would go. I should 
not stay here. There 
is no good for you to 

*' * But, madam,' 
said I, * I have not 
yet done what I came 
for. I cannot pos- 
sibly leave until I 
have seen the 

*' ' It is not worth 
your while to wait,' 
she went on. * You 
can pass through '^ 
the door ; no one 
hinders.' And then, 
seeing that I smiled 
and shook my head, 
she suddenly threw ^ ^'' 


aside her constraint, 

and made a step forward, with her hands wrung together. * For 
the love of Heaven!' she whispered, *get away from here before 
it is too late ! ' 

" But I am somewhat headstrong by nature, and the more 
ready to engage in an affair when there is some obstacle in the 
way. I thought of my fifty-guinea fee, of my wearisome journey, 
and of the unpleasant night which seemed to be before me. Was 


it all to go for nothing ? Why should I slink away without having 
carried out my commission, and without the payment which was 
my due ? This woman might, for all I knew, be a monomaniac. 
With a stout bearing, therefore, though her manner had shaken 
me more than I cared to confess, I still shook my head, and 
declared my intention of remaining where I was. She was about 
to renew her entreaties when a door slammed overhead, and the 
sound of several footsteps were heard upon the stairs. She 
listened for an instant, threw up her hands with a despairing 
gesture, and vanished as suddenly and as noiselessly as she had 

** The new-comers were Colonel Lysander Stark, and a short 
thick man with a chinchilla beard growing out of the creases of 
his double chin, who was introduced to me as Mr. Ferguson. 

** ' This is my secretary and manager,' said the Colonel. * By 
the way, I was under the impression that I left this door shut 
just now. I fear that you have felt the draught.' 

** * On the contrary,' said I, ' I opened the door myself, because 
I felt the room to be a little close.' 

** He shot one of his suspicious glances at me. ' Perhaps we 
had better proceed to business, then,' said he. * Mr. Ferguson and 
I will take you up to see the machine.' 

" ' I had better put my hat on, I suppose.' 

*' ' Oh no, it is in the house.' 

** * What, do you dig fuller's earth in the house ? ' 

** * No, no. This is only where we compress it. But never 
mind that ! All we wish you to do is to examine the machine, 
and to let us know what is wrong with it.' 

** We went upstairs together, the Colonel first with the lamp, 
the fat manager and I behind him. It was a labyrinth of an old 
house, with corridors, passages, narrow winding staircases, and 
little low doors, the thresholds of which were hollowed out by the 
generations who had crossed them. There were no carpets, and 
no signs of any furniture above the ground floor, while the plaster 
was peeling off the walls, and the damp was breaking through in 
green, unhealthy blotches. I tried to put on as unconcerned an 
air as possible, but I had not forgotten the warnings of the lady, 
even though I disregarded them, and I kept a keen eye upon my 
two companions. Ferguson appeared to be a morose and silent 


man, but I could see from the little that he said that he was at 
least a fellow-countryman. 

^' Colonel Lysander Stark stopped at last before a low door, 
which he unlocked. Within was a small square room, in which 
the three of us could hardly get at one time. Ferguson remained 
outside, and the Colonel ushered me in. 

" ' We are now,' said he, ' actually within the hydraulic press, 
and it would be a particularly unpleasant thing for us if any one 
were to turn it on. The ceiling of this small chamber is really 
the end of the descending piston, and it comes down with the 
force of many tons upon this metal floor. There are small lateral 
columns of water outside which receive the force, and which 
transmit and multiply it in the manner which is familiar to you. 
The machine goes readily enough, but there is some stiffness in 
the working of it, and it has lost a little of its force. Perhaps you 
will have the goodness to look it over, and to show us how we 
can set it right.' 

" I took the lamp from him, and I examined the machine very 
thoroughly. It was indeed a gigantic one, and capable of exercising 
enormous pressure. When I passed outside, however, and pressed 
down the levers which controlled it, I knew at once by the whishing 
sound that there was a slight leakage, which allowed a regurgitation 
of water through one of the side cylinders. An examination 
showed that one of the indiarubber bands which was round the 
head of a driving rod had shrunk so as not quite to fill the socket 
along which it worked. This was clearly the cause of the loss of 
power, and I pointed it out to my companions, who followed my 
remarks very carefully, and asked several practical questions as to 
how they should proceed to set it right. When I had made it 
clear to them, I returned to the main chamber of the machine, and 
took a good look at it to satisfy my own curiosity. It was obvious 
at a glance that the story of the fuller's earth was the merest 
fabrication, for it would be absurd to suppose that so powerful an 
engine could be designed for so inadequate a purpose. The walls 
were of wood, but the floor consisted of a large iron trough, and 
when I came to examine it I could see a crust of metallic deposit 
all over it. I had stooped and was scraping at this to see exactly 
what it was, when I heard a muttered exclamation in German, and 
saw the cadaverous face of the Colonel looking down at me. 




** / What are you doing there ? ' he asked. 

" I felt angry at having been tricked by so elaborate a story as 
that which he had told me. ' I was admiring your fuller's earth,* 
said I ; * I think that I should be better able to advise you as to 
your machine if I knew what the exact purpose was for which it 
was used.' 

'"' "The instant 
that I uttered the 
words I legretted 
the rashness of my 
speech. His face 
set hard, and a 
baleful light sprang 
up in his grey eyes. 
" ' Very well,' 
said he, ' you shall 
know all about the 
machine.' He took 
a step backward, 
slamm.ed the little 
door, and turned 
the key in the lock. 
r I rushed towards it 
and pulled at the 
handle, but it was 
quite secure, and 
did not give in the 
least to my kicks 
and shoves. 
' Hullo 1 ' I yelled. 
* Hullo! Colonel! 
Let me out 1 ' 

" And then suddenly in the silence I heard a sound which sent 
my heart into my mouth. It was the clank of the levers, and the 
swish of the leaking cylinder. He had set the engine at work. 
The lamp still stood upon the floor where I had placed it when 
examining the trough. By its light I saw that the black ceiling 
was coming down upon me, slowly, jerkil}^ but, as none knew 
better than myself, with a force which must within a .minute grind 



me to a shapeless pulp. I threw myself, screaming, against the 
door, and dragged with my nails at the lock. I implored the 
Colonel to let me out, but the remorseless clanking of the levers 
drowned my cries. The ceiling was only a foot or two above my 
head, and with my hand upraised I could feel its hard, rough 
surface. Then it flashed through my mind that the pain of my 
death would depend very much upon the position in which I met 
it. If I lay on my face the weight would come upon my spine, and 
I shuddered to think of that dreadful snap. Easier the other way, 
perhaps, and yet had I the nerve to lie and look up at that deadly 
black shadow wavering down upon me ? Already I was unable to 
stand erect, when my eye caught something which brought a 
gush of hope back to my heart. 

*' I have said that though floor and ceiling were of iron, the 
walls were of wood. As I gave a last hurried glance around, I 
saw a thin line of yellow light between two of the boards, which 
broadened and broadened as a small panel was pushed backwards. 
For an instant I could hardly believe that here was indeed a door 
which led away from death. The next I threw myself through, 
and lay half-fainting upon the other side. The panel had closed 
again behind me, but the crash of the lamp, and a few moments 
afterwards the clang of the two slabs of metal, told me how narrow 
had been my escape. 

** I was recalled to myself by a frantic plucking at my wrist, 
and I found myself lying upon the stone floor of a narrow corridor, 
while a woman bent over me and tugged at me with her left hand, 
while she held a candle in her right. It was the same good friend 
whose warning I had so foolishly rejected. 

** * Come ! come I ' she cried, breathlessly. * They will be here 
in a moment. They will see that you are not there. Oh, do not 
waste the so precious time, but come ! ' 

" This time, at least, I did not scorn her advice. I staggered 
to my feet, and ran with her along the corridor and down a winding 
stair. The latter led to another broad passage, and, just as we 
reached it, we heard the sound of running feet, and the shouting 
of two voices — one answering the other — from the floor on which 
we were, and from the one beneath. My guide stopped, and looked 
about her like one who is at her wits' end. Then she threw open 
a door which led into a bedroom, through the window of which 
the moon was shining brightly. 


** * It is your only chance,' said she. ' It is high, but it may be 
that you can jump it.' 

" As she spoke a light sprang into view at the further end of 
the passage, and I saw the lean figure of Colonel Lysander Stark 
rushing forward with a lantern in one hand, and a weapon like a 
butcher's cleaver in the other. I rushed across the bedroom, flung 
open the window, and looked out. How quiet and sweet and 
wholesome the garden looked in the moonlight, and it could not 
be more than thirty feet down. I clambered out upon the sill, but 
I hesitated to jump, until I should have heard what passed between 
my saviour and the ruffian who pursued me. If she were ill-used, 
then at any risks I was determined to go back to her assistance. 
The thought had hardly flashed through my mind before he was 
at the door, pushing his way past her ; but she threw her arms 
round him, and tried to hold him back. 

" * Fritz ! Fritz ! ' she cried in English, * remember your promise 
after the last time. You said it should not be again. He will be 
silent ! Oh, he will be silent ! ' 

*' * You are mad, Elise ! ' he shouted, struggling to break away 
from her. * You will be the ruin of us. He has seen too much. 
Let me pass, I say ! ' He dashed her to one side, and, rushing to 
the window, cut at me with his heavy weapon. I had let myself 
go, and was hanging with my fingers in the window slot and my 
hands across the sill, when his blow fell. I was conscious of a dull 
pain, my grip loosened, and I fell into the garden below. 

" I was shaken, but not hurt by the fall ; so I picked myself up, 
and rushed off among the bushes as hard as I could run, for I 
understood that I was far from being out of danger yet. Suddenly, 
however, as I ran, a deadly dizziness and sickness came over me. I 
glanced down at my hand, which was throbbing painfully, and then, 
for the first time, saw that my thumb had been cut off, and that 
the blood was pouring from my wound. I endeavoured to tie my 
handkerchief round it, but there came a sudden buzzing in my 
ears, and next moment I fell in a dead faint among the rose- 

** How long I remained unconscious I cannot tell. It must 
have been a very long time, for the moon had sunk, and a bright 
morning was breaking when I came to myself. My clothes were 
all sodden with dew, and my coat- sleeve was drenched with blood 



from my wounded thumb. The smarting of it recalled in an instant 
all the particulars of my night's adventure, and I sprang to my 
feet with the feeling that I might hardly yet be safe from my 
pursuers. But, to my astonishment, when I came to look round 
me, neither house nor garden were to be seen. I had been lying 

" ' HE CUT AT ME.' 

in an angle of the hedge close by the liigh road, and just a little 
lower down was a long building, which proved, upon my approach- 
ing it, to be the very station at which I had arrived upon the 
previous night. Were it not for the ugly wound upon my hand, all 
that had passed during those dreadful hours might have been an 
evil dream. 


*' Half dazed, I went into the station, and asked about the 
morning train. There would be one to Reading in less than an 
hour. The same porter w^as on duty, I found, as had been there 
when I arrived. I inquired from him whether he had ever heard 
of Colonel Lysander Stark. The name was strange to him. Had 
he observed a carriage the night before waiting for me ? No, he 
had not. Was there a police station anywhere near ? There was 
one about three miles off. 

"It was too far for me to go, weak and ill as I was. I determined 
to wait until I got back to town before telling my story to the 
police. It was a little past six when I arrived, so I went first to 
have my wound dressed, and then the doctor was kind enough to 
bring me along here. I put the case into your hands, and shall do 
exactly what you advise." 

We both sat in silence for some little time after listening to 
this extraordinary narrative. Then Sherlock Holmes pulled down 
from the shelf one of the ponderous commonplace books in which 
he placed his cuttings. 

*' Here is an advertisement which will interest you," said he. 
'* It appeared in all the papers about a year ago. Listen to 
this : — ' Lost, on the gth inst., Mr. Jeremiah Hayling, aged 26, a 
hydraulic engineer. Left his lodgings at ten o'clock at night, and 
has not been heard of since. Was dressed in,' &c., &c. Ha ! 
That represents the last time that the Colonel needed to have his 
machine overhauled, I fancy." 

" Good heavens ! " cried my patient. " Then that explains 
what the girl said." 

*' Undoubtedly. It is quite clear that the Colonel was a cool 
and desperate man, who was absolutely determined that nothing 
should stand in the way of his little game, like those out-and-out 
pirates who will leave no survivor from a captured ship. Well, 
every m.oment now is precious, so, if you feel equal to it, we shall 
go down to Scotland-yard at once as a preliminary to starting for 

Some three hours or so afterwards we were all in the train 
together, bound from Reading to the little Berkshire village. There 
were Sherlock Holmes, the hydraulic engineer, Inspector Bradstreet 
of Scotland-yard, a plain-clothes man, and myself. Bradstreet had 
spread an ordnance map of the county out upon the seat, and was 


busy with his compasses drawing a circle with Eyford for its 

*' There you are," said he. *' That circle is drawn at a radius of 
ten miles from the village. The place we want must be somewhere 
near that line. You said ten miles, I think, sir? " 

*' It was an hour's good drive." 

*' And you think that they brought you back all that way when 
you were unconscious ? " 

*' They must have done so. I have a confused memory, too, of 
having been lifted and conveyed somewhere." 

'' What I cannot understand," said I, " is why they should have 
spared you when they found you lying fainting in the garden. Per- 
haps the villain was softened by the woman's entreaties." 

*' I hardly think that likely. I never saw a more inexorable face 
in my life." 

" Oh, we shall soon clear up all that," said Bradstreet. ** Well, 
I have drawn my circle, and I only wish I knew at what point upon 
it the folk that we are in search of are to be found." 

'* I think I could lay my finger on it," said Holmes, quietly. 

"Really, now!" cried the Inspector, *'you have formed your 
opinion ! Come now, we shall see who agrees with you. I say it 
is south, for the country is more deserted there." 

*' And I say east," said my patient. 

*' I am for west," remarked the plain-clothes man. '* There are 
several quiet little villages up there." 

" And I am for north," said I ; *' because there are no hills there, 
and our friend says that he did not notice the carriage go up any." 

" Come," cried the Inspector, laughing ; '' it's a very pretty 
diversity of opinion. We have boxed the compass among us. 
Who do you give your casting vote to ? " 

*' You are all wrong." 

*' But we can't all be." 

'* Oh yes, you can. This is my point," he placed his finger on 
the centre of the circle. " This is where we shall find them." 

'' But the twelve-mile drive ? " gasped Hatherley. 

" Six out and six back. Nothing simpler. You say yourself 
that the horse was fresh and glossy when you got in. How could 
it be that, if it had gone twelve miles over heavy roads ? " 

"Indeed it is a likely ruse enough," observed Bradstreet, 


thoughtfully. " Of course there can be no doubt as to the nature 
of this gang." 

" None at all," said Holmes. '' They are coiners on a large 
scale, and have used the machine to form the amalgam which has 
taken the place of silver." 

*' We have known for some time that a clever gang was at 
work," said the Inspector. '' They have been turning out half- 
crowns by the thousand. We even traced them as far as Reading, 
but could get no further ; for they had covered their traces in a 
way that showed that they were very old hands. But now, thanks 
to this lucky chance, I think that we have got them right 

But the Inspector was mistaken, for those criminals were not 
destined to fall into the hands of justice. As we rolled into Eyford 
Station we saw a gigantic column of smoke which streamed up from 
behind a small clump of trees in the neighbourhood, and hung like 
an immense ostrich feather over the landscape. 

"A house on fire ? " asked Bradstreet, as the train steamed off 
again on its way. 

'' Yes, sir! " said the station-master. 

'' W^hen did it break out ? " 

" I hear that it was during the night, sir, but it has got worse, 
and the whole place is in a blaze." 

" Whose house is it ? " 

*' Dr. Becher's." 

*' Tell me," broke in the engineer, " is Dr. Becher a German, 
very thin, with a long sharp nose ? " 

The stationmaster laughed heartily. '' No, sir, Dr. Becher is 
an Englishman, and there isn't a man in the parish who has a 
better-lined waistcoat. But he has a gentleman staying with him, 
a patient, as I understand, who is a foreigner, and he looks as if a 
little good Berkshire beef would do him no harm." 

The stationmaster had not finished his speech before we were 
all hastening in the direction of the fire. The road topped a low 
hill, and there was a great widespread white-washed building in 
front of us, spouting fire at every chink and window, while in the 
garden in front three fire-engines were vainly striving to keep the 
flames under. 

.** That's it ! " cried Halherley, in intense excitement. "There is 



the gravel drive, and there are the rose-bushes where I lay. That 
second window is the one that I jumped from." 

*' Well, at least," r.aid Holmes, "you have had your revenge 
upon them. There can be no question that it was your oil lamp 
which, when it was crushed in the press, set fire to the wooden 
walls, though no doubt they 
were too excited in the chase 
after you to observe it at the 
time. Now keep your eyes 
open in this crowd for your 
friends of last night, though 
I very much fear that they 
are a good hundred miles off 
by now." 

"a H0US7. ON FIRE ! " 

And Holmes' fears came to be realised, for from that day to this 
no word has ever been heard either of the beautiful woman, the 
sinister German, or the morose Englishman. Early that morning 
a peasant had met a cart, containing several people and some very 
bulky boxes, driving rapidly in the direction of Reading, but there 
all traces of the fugitives disappeared, and even Holmes' ingenuity 
failed ever to discover the least clue to their whereabouts. 


The firemen had been much perturbed at the strange arrange- 
ments which they found within, and still more so by discovering a 
newly severed human thumb upon a window-sill of the second floor. 
About sunset, however, their efforts were at last successful, and 
they subdued the flames, but not before the roof had fallen in, and 
the whole place been reduced to such absolute ruin that, save some 
twisted cylinders and iron piping, not a trace remained of the 
machinery which had cost our unfortunate acquaintance so dearly. 
Large masses of nickel and of tin were discovered stored in an 
outhouse, but no coins were to be found, which may have explained 
the presence of those bulky boxes which have been already referred 

How our hydraulic engineer had been conveyed from the garden 
to the spot where he recovered his senses might have remained for 
ever a mystery were it not for the soft mould, which told us a very 
plain tale. He had evidently been carried down by two persons, 
one of whom had remarkably small feet and the other unusually 
large ones. On the whole, it was most probable that the silent 
Englishman, being less bold or less murderous than his companion, 
had assisted the woman to bear the unconscious man out of the way 
of danger. 

" Well," said our engineer, ruefully, as we took our seats to 
return to London, ''it has been a pretty business for me! I have 
lost my thumb, and I have lost a fifty-guinea fee, and what have I 
gained ? " 

" Experience," said Holmes, laughing. '' Indirectly it may be of 
value, you know ; you have only to put it into words to gain the 
reputation of being excellent company for the remainder of your 



HE Lord St. Simon marriage, and its curious termi- 
nation, have long since ceased to be a subject of 
interest in those exalted circles in which the unfjr- 
tunate bridegroom moves. Fresh scandals have 
eclipsed it, and their more piquant details have 
drawn the gossips away from this four-year-old drama. As I 
have reason to believe, however, that the full facts have never 
been revealed to the general public, and as my friend Sherlock 
Holmes had a considerable share in clearing the matter up, I feel 
that no memoir of him would be complete without some little 
sketch of this remarkable episode. 

It was a few weeks before my own marriage, during the days 
when I was still sharing rooms with Holmes in Baker-street, that 
he came home from an afternoon stroll to find a letter on the table 
waiting for him. I had remained indoors all day, for the weather 
had taken a sudden turn to rain, with high autumnal winds, and the 
jezail bullet which I had brought back in one of my limbs as a relic 
of my Afghan campaign, throbbed with dull persistency. With my 
body in one easy chair and my legs upon another, I had surrounded 
myself with a cloud of newspapers, until at last, saturated with the 
news of the day, I tossed them all aside and lay listless, watching 
the huge crest and monogram upon the envelope upon the table, 
and wondering lazily who my friend's noble correspondent could be. 
*' Here is a very fashionable epistle," I remarked as he entered. 
** Your morning letters, if I remember right, were from a fishmonger 
and a tide waiter." 

"Yes, my correspondence has certainly the charm of variety," 
he answered, smiling, "and the humbler are usually the more 
interesting. This looks like one of those unwelcome social sum- 
monses which call upon a man either to be bored or to lie." 




He broke the seal, and glanced over the contents. 

*' Oh, come, it may prove to be something of interest after all." 

"Not social, then?" 

** No, distinctly professional." 

*' And from a noble client ? " 

" One of the highest in England." 

** My dear fellow, I congratulate you." 

" I assure you, 
Watson, without 
affectation, that 
the status of my 
client is a matter 


of less moment to me than the interest of his case. It is just 
possible, however, that that also may not be wanting in this new 
investigation. You have been reading the papers diligently of late, 
have you not ? " 

*' It looks like it," said I, ruefully, pointing to a huge bundle in 
the corner. " I have had nothing else to do." 

" It is fortunate, for you will perhaps be able to post me up. I 
read nothing except the criminal news and the agony column. The 
latter is always instructive. But if you have followed recent events 
so closely you must have read about Lord St. Simon and his 
wedding? " 


*' Oh, yes, with the deepest interest." 

*' That is well. The letter which I hold in my hand is from 
Lord St. Simon. I will read it to you, and in return you must turn 
over these papers and let me have whatever bears upon the matter. 
This is what he says : — 

*' ' My dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes, — Lord Backwater tells me 
that I may place implicit reliance upon your judgment and discre- 
tion. I have determined, therefore, to call upon you, and to consult 
you in reference to the very painful event which has occurred in 
connection with my wedding. Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland-yard, is 
acting already in the matter, but he assures me that he sees no 
objection to your co-operation, and that he even thinks that it mJght 
be of some assistance. I will call at four o'clock in the afternoon, 
and, should you have any other engagement at that time, I hope 
that you will postpone it, as this matter is of paramount importance. 
— Yours faithfully, Robert St. Simon.' 

*' It is dated from Grosvenor Mansions, written with a quill pen, 
and the noble lord has had the misfortune to get a smear of ink 
upon the outer side of his right little finger,'' remarked Holmes, as 
he folded up the epistle. 

*' He says four o'clock. It is three now. He will be here in an 

** Then I have just time, v/ith your assistance, to get clear upon 
the subject. Turn over those papers, and arrange the extracts in 
their order of time, while I take a glance as to who our client is." 
He picked a red-covered volume from a line of books of reference 
beside the mantelpiece. '* Here he is," said he, sitting down and 
flattening it out upon his knee. " ' Robert Walsingham de 
Vere St. Simon, second son of the Duke of Balmoral — Hum ! 
Arms : Azure, three caltrops in chief over a fess sable. Born in 
1846.' He's forty-one years of age, which is mature for marriage. 
Was Under-Secretary for the Colonies in a late Administration. 
The Duke, his father, was at one time Secretary for Foreign 
Affairs. They inherit Plantagenet blood by direct descent, and 
Tudor on the distaff side. Ha! Well there is nothing very in- 
structive in all this. I think that I must turn to you, Watson, 
for something more solid." 

" I have very little difficulty in finding what I want," said I, 


** for the facts are quite recent, and the matter struck me as ic- 
markable. I feared to refer them to you, however, as I knew that 
you had an inquiry on hand, and that you disHked the intrusion of 
other matters." 

'* Oh, you mean the little problem of the Grosvenor-square 
furniture van. That is quite cleared up now — though, indeed, it 
was obvious from the first. Pray give me the results of your news- 
paper selections." 

" Here is the first notice which I can find. It is in the personal 
column of The Morning Post, and dates, as you see, some weeks 
back. * A marriage has been arranged,' it says, ' and will, if 
rumour is correct, very shortly take place, between Lord Robert 
St. Simon, second son of the Duke of Balmoral, and Miss Hatty 
Doran, the only daughter of Aloysius Doran, Esq., of San Francisco, 
Cal., U.S.A.' That is all." 

** Terse and to the point," remarked Holmes, stretching his long, 
thin legs towards the fire. 

*' There was a paragraph amplifying this in one of the society 
papers of the same week. Ah, here it is. ' There will soon be a 
call for protection in the marriage market, for the present free-trade 
principle appears to tell heavily against our home product. One 
by one the management of the noble houses of Great Britain is 
passing into the hands of our fair cousins from across the Atlantic. 
An important addition has been made during the last week to the 
list of the prizes which have been borne away by these charming 
invaders. Lord St. Simon, who has shown himself for over twenty 
years proof against the little god's arrows, has now definitely an- 
nounced his approaching marriage with Miss Hatty Doran, the 
fascinating daughter of a California millionaire. Miss Doran, 
whose graceful figure and striking face attracted much attention 
at the Westbury House festivities, is an only child, and it is 
currently reported that her dowry will run to considerably over 
the six figures, with expectancies for the future. As it is an open 
secret that the Duke of Balmoral has been compelled to sell his 
pictures within the last few years, and as Lord St. Simon has no 
property of his own, save the small estate of Birchmoor, it is 
obvious that the Californian heiress is not the only gainer by an 
alliance which will enable her to make the easy and common 
transition from a Republican lady to a British title.' " 


** Anything else ? " asked Holmes, yawning. 

** Oh yes ; plenty. Then there is another note in The Morning 
Post to say that the marriage would be an absolutely quiet one, that 
it would be at St. George's, Hanover-square, that only half a dozen 
intimate friends would be invited, and that the party would return 
to the furnished house at Lancaster Gate which has been taken by 
Mr. Aloysius Doran. Two days later — that is, on Wednesday last 
— there is a curt announcement that the wedding had taken place, 
and that the honeymoon would be passed at Lord Backwater's 
place, near Petersfield. Those are all the notices which appeared 
before the disappearance of the bride." 

" Before the what ? " asked Holmes, with a start. 

*' The vanishing of the lady." 

" When did she vanish, then ? " 

** At the wedding breakfast." 

** Indeed. This is more interesting than it promised to be ; 
quite dramatic, in fact." 

"Yes; it struck me as being a little out of the common." 

*' They often vanish before the ceremony, and occasionally during 
the honeymoon ; but I cannot call to mind anything quite so prompt 
as this. Pray let me have the details." 

" I warn you that they are very incomplete." 

" Perhaps we may make them less so." 

" Such as they are, they are set forth in a single article of a 
morning paper of yesterday, which I will read to you. It is headed, 
' Singular Occurrence at a Fashionable Wedding ' : — 

" * The family of Lord Robert St. Simon has been thrown into 
the greatest consternation by the strange and painful episodes which 
have taken place in connection with his wedding. The ceremony, 
as shortly announced in the papers of yesterday, occurred on the 
previous morning ; but it is only now that it has been possible to 
confirm the strange rumours which have been so persistently floating 
about. In spite of the attempts of the friends to hush the matter 
up, so much public attention has now been drawn to it that no good 
purpose can be served by affecting to disregard what is a common 
subject for conversation. 

** ' The ceremony, which was performed at St. George's, Hanover- 
square, was a very quiet one, no one being present save the father of 
the bride, Mr. Aloysius Doran, the Duchess of Balmoral, Lord 



Backwater, Lord Eustace and Lady Clara St. Simon (the younger 
brother and sister of the bridegroom), and Lady Alicia Whittington. 
The whole party proceeded afterwards to the house of Mr. Aloysius 
Doran, at Lancaster Gate, where breakfast had been prepared. It 


appears that some little trouble was caused by a woman, whose 
name has not been ascertained, who endeavoured to force her way 
into the house after the bridal party, alleging that she had some 
claim upon Lord St. Simon. It was only after a painful and pro- 
longed scene that she was ejected by the butler and the footman. The 


bride, who had fortunately entered the house before this unpleasant 
interruption, had sat down to breakfast with the rest, when she 
complained of a sudden indisposition, and retired to her room. Her 
prolonged absence having caused some comment, her father followed 
her ; but learned from her maid that she had only come up to her 
chamber for an instant, caught up an ulster and bonnet, and hurried 
down to the passage. One of the footmen declared that he had seen 
a lady leave the house thus apparelled ; but had refused to credit 
that it was his mistress, believing her to be with the company. Qn 
ascertaining that his daughter had disappeared, Mr. Aloysius Doran, 
in conjunction witli the bridegroom, instantly put themselves into 
communication with the police, and very energetic inquiries are 
being made, which will probably result in a speedy clearing up of 
this very singular business. Up to a late hour last night, however, 
nothing had transpired as to the whereabouts of the missing lady. 
There are rumours of foul play in the matter, and it is said that the 
police have caused the arrest of the woman who had caused the 
original disturbance, in the belief that, from jealousy or some other 
motive, she may have been concerned in the strange disappearance 
of the bride.' " ] ^ ■- 

** And is that all ? " 

'•' Only one little item in another of the morning papers, but it is 
a suggestive one." ' , 

''And it is? " 

" That Miss Flora Millar, the lady who had caused the disturb- 
ance, has actually been arrested. It appears that she was formerly 
a dansense at the Allegro, and that she has known the bridegroom for 
some years. There are no further particulars, and the whole ease 
is in your hands now — so far as it has been set forth in the public 
press." - ' ; .-» •. r, f: ,.». 

" And an exceedingly interesting case it appears to be. I would 
not have missed it for worlds. But there is a ring at the bell, 
Watson, and as the clock makes it a few minutes after four, I have 
no doubt that this will prove to be our noble client. Do not dream 
of going, Watson, for I very much prefer having a witness, if only 
as a check to my own memory." 

" Lord Robert St. Simon," announced our page boy, throwing 
open the door, A gentleman entered, with a pleasant, cultured 
face, high-nosed and pale, with something perhaps of petulance 




about the mouth, and with the steady, well-opened eye of a man 
whose pleasant lot it had ever been to command and to be obeyed. 
His manner was brisk, and yet his general appearance gave an 
undue impression of age, for he had a slight forward stoop, and 
a little bend of the knees as he walked. His hair, too, as he swept 
off his very curly-brimmed hat, was grizzled round the edges, and 


thin upon the top. As to 
his dress, it was careful to 
the verge of foppishness, 
with high collar, black frock 
coat, white waistcoat, yellow 
gloves, patent-leather shoes, 
and light-coloured gaiters. 
He advanced slowly into 
the room, turning his head 
from left to right, and 
swinging in his right hand 
the cord which held his 
golden eye-glasses. 

*' Good -day, Lord St. 
Simon," said Holmes, rising 
and bowing. *' Pray take 
the basket chair. This is 
my friend and colleague, 
Dr. Watson. Draw up a 
little to the fire, and we 
shall talk this matter over." 

** A most painful matter 
to me, as you can most 
readily imagine, Mr. 
Holmes. I havj been cut 
to the quick. I understand 

that you have already managed several delicate cases of this sort, 
sir, though I presume that they were hardly from the same class of 

*' No, I am descending." 

'* I beg pardon ? " 

" My last client of the sort was a king." 

" Oh, really ! I had no idea. And which king ? " 



** The King of Scandinavia." 

'' What ! Had he lost his wife ? " 

" You can understand," said Holmes, suavely, *' that I extend to 
the affairs of my other clients the same secrecy which I prom.ise to 
you in yours." 

*' Of course ! Very right ! very right ! I'm sure I beg pardon. 
As to my own case, I am ready to give you any information which 
may assist you in forming an opinion." 

" Thank you. I have already learned all that is in the public 
prints, nothing more. I presume that I may take it as correct — 
this article, for example, as to the disappearance of the bride." 

Lord St. Simon glanced over it. " Yes, it is correct, as far as it 

" But it needs a great deal of supplementing before any one 
could offer an opinion. I think that I may arrive at my facts 
most directly by questioning you," 

'' Pray do so." 

" When did you first meet Miss Hatty Doran ? " 

" In San Francisco, a year ago." 

" You were travelling in the States ? " 


" Did you become engaged then ? " 

" No." 

" But you were on a friendly footing ? " 

" I was amused by her society, and she could see that I was 

" Her father is very rich ? " 

" He is said to be the richest man on the Pacific slope." 

" And how did he make his money ? " 

*' In mining. He had nothing a few years ago. Then he struck 
gold, invested it, and came up by leaps and bounds." 

*' Now, what is your own impression as to the young lady's — 
your wife's character ? " 

The nobleman swung his glasses a little faster and stared down 
into the fire. " You see, Mr. Holmes," said he, " my wife was 
twenty before her father became a rich man. During that time 
she ran free in a mining camp, and wandered through woods or 
mountains, so that her education has come from nature rather than 
from the schoolmaster. She is what we call in England a tomboy. 


with a strong nature, wild and free, unfettered by any sort of 
traditions. She is impetuous — volcanic, I was about to say. She 
is swift in making up her mind, and fearless in carrying out her 
resolutions. On the other hand, I would not have given her the 
name which I have the honour to bear" (he gave a little stately 
cough) ''had I not thought her to be at bottom a noble woman. 
I believe that she is capable of heroic self-sacrifice, and that any- 
thing dishonourable would be repugnant to her." 

" Have you her photograph ? " 

" I brought this with me." He opened a locket, and showed us 
the full face of a very lovely woman. It was not a photograph, but 
an ivory miniature, and the artist had brought out the full effect of 
the lustrous black hair, the large dark eyes, and the exquisite 
mouth. Holmes gazed long and earnestly at it. Then he closed 
the locket and handed it back to Lord St. Simon. 

" The young lady came to London, then, and you renewed your 
acquaintance ? " 

" Yes, her father brought her over for this last London season. 
I met her several times, became engaged to her, and have now 
married her." 

" She brought, I understand, a considerable dow^-y ? " 

"A fair dowry. Not more than is usual in my family." 

"And this, of course, remains to you, since the marriage is a 
fait ■accompli?''' 

" I really have made no inquiries on the subject." 

" Very naturally not. Did you see Miss Doran on the day 
before the wedding? " 

" Yes." - 

" Was she in good spirits ? " 

" Never better. She kept talking of what we should do in our 
future lives." 

•' Indeed. That is very interesting. And on the morning of the 
wedding ? " 

" She was as bright as possible — at least, until after the ceremony." 

" And did you observe any change in her then ?" 

"Well, to tell the truth, I saw then the first signs that I 
had ever seen that her temper was just a little sharp. The inci- 
dent, however, was too trivial to relate, and can have no possible 
bearing upon the case." 



" Pray let us have it, for all that."' 

*' Oh, it is childish. She dropped her bouquet as we went 
towards the vestry. She was passing the front pew at the time, 
and it fell over into the pew. There was a moment's delay, but the 
gentleman in the pew handed it up to her again, and it did not 



appear to be the worse for the fall. Yet, when I spoke to her of 
the matter, she answered me abruptly ; and in the carriage, on our 
way home, she seemed absurdly agitated over this trifling cause.'' 

" Indeed. You say that there was a gentleman in the pew. 
Some of the general public were present, then ? " 


" Oh yes. It is impossible to exclude them when the church is 

" This gentleman was not one of your wife's friends ? " 

" No, no ; I call him a gentleman by courtesy, but he was 
quite a common-looking person. I hardly noticed his appearance. 
But really I think that we are wandering rather far from the 

*' Lady St. Simon, then, returned from the wedding in a less 
cheerful frame of mind than she had gone to it. What did she 
do on re-entering her father's house ? " 

" I saw her in conversation with her maid." 

*' And who is her maid ? " 

*' Alice is her name. She is an American, and came from 
California with her." 

*' A confidential servant ? " 

** A little too much so. It seemed to me that her mistress 
allowed her to take great liberties. Still, of course, in America 
they look upon these things in a different way." 

*' How long did she speak to this Alice ? " 

*' Oh, a few minutes. I had something else to think of." 

" You did not overhear what they said ? " 

'•' Lady St. Simon said something about * jumping a claim.' 
She was accustomed to use slang of the kind. I have no idea what 
she meant." 

"American slang is very expressive sometimes. And what did 
your v/ife do when she had finished speaking to her maid ? " 

" She walked into the breakfast room." 

*' On your arm? " 

** No, alone. She was very independent in little matters like 
that. Then, after we had sat down for ten minutes or so, she rose 
hurriedly, muttered some words of apology, and left the room. 
She never came back." 

*' But this maid Alice, as I understard, deposes that she went to 
her room, covered her bride's dress with a long ulster, put on a 
bonnet, and went out." 

" Quite so. And she was afterwards seen walking into Hyde- 
park in company with Flora Millar, a woman who is now in 
custody, and who had already made a disturbance at Mr. Doran's 
house that morning." 


*' Ah, yes. I should like a few particulars as to this young lady, 
and your relations to her." 

Lord St. Simon shrugged his shoulders, and raised his eyebrows. 
** We have been on a friendly footing for some years — I may say on 
a very friendly footing. She used to be at the Allegro. I have not 
treated her ungenerously, and she has no just cause of complaint 
against me, but you know what women are, Mr. Holmes. Flora 
was a dear little thing, but exceedingly hot-headed, and devotedly 
attached to me. She wrote me dreadful letters when she heard 
that I was about to be married, and to tell the truth the reason why 
I had the marriage celebrated so quietly was that I feared lest there 
might be a scandal in the church. She came to Mr. Doran's door 
just after we returned, and she endeavoured to push her way 
in, uttering very abusive expressions towards my wife, and even 
threatening her, but I had foreseen the possibility of something of 
the sort, and I had given instructions to the servants, who soon 
pushed her out again. She was quiet when she saw that there was 
no good in making a row." 

*' Did your wife hear all this ? " 

*' No, thank goodness, she did not." 

" And she was seen walking with this very woman afterwards ? " 

"Yes. That is what Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland -yard, looks 
upon as so serious. It is thought that Flora decoyed my wife 
out, and laid some terrible trap for her." 

" Well, it is a possible supposition," 

''You think so, too? " 

" I did not say a probable one. But you do not yourself look 
upon this as likely ? " 

" I do not think Flora would hurt a fly." 

** Still, jealousy is a strange transformer of characters. Pray 
what is your own theory as to what took place ? " 

" Well, really, I came to seek a theory, not to propound one. I 
have given you all the facts. Since you ask me, however, I may 
say that it has occurred to me as possible that the excitement of 
this affair, the consciousness that she had made so immense a social 
stride, had the effect of causing some little nervous disturbance in 
my wife." 

*' In short, that she had become suddenly deranged ? " 

" Well, really, when I consider that she has turned her back^ 


I will not say upon me, but upon so much that many have aspired 
to without success — I can hardly explain it in any other fashion." 

" Well, certainly that is also a conceivable hypothesis," said 
Holmes, smiling. '* And now, Lord St. Simon, I think that I have 
nearly all my data. May I ask whether you were seated at the 
breakfast-table so that you could see out of the window? " 

*'We could see the other side of the road, and the Park." 

*' Quite so. Then I do not think that I need detain you any 
longer. I shall communicate with you." 

" Should you be fortunate enough to solve this problem," said 
our client, rising. 

/' I have solved it." 

" Eh ? What was that ? " 

" I say that I have solved it." 

** Where, then, is my wife ? " 

" That is a detail which I shall speedily supply." 

Lord St. Simon shook his head. " I am afraid that it will take 
wiser heads than yours or mine," he remarked, and bowing in a 
stately, old-fashioned manner, he departed. 

** It is very good of Lord St. Simon to honour my head by 
putting it on a level with his own," said Sherlock Holmes, laughing. 
*' I think that I shall have a whisky and soda and a cigar after all 
this cross-questioning. I had formed my conclusions as to the case 
before our client came into the room." 

*' My dear Holmes ! " 

** I have notes of several similar cases, though none, as I 
remarked before, which were quite as prompt. My whole exami- 
nation served to turn my conjecture into a certainty. Circumstan- 
tial evidence is occasionally very convincing, as when you find a 
trout in the milk, to quote Thoreau's example." 

*' But I have heard all that you have heard." 

** Without, however, the knowledge of pre-existing cases which 
serves me so well. There was a parallel instance in Aberdeen 
some years back, and something on very much the same lines at 
Munich the year after the Franco- Prussian war. It is one of these 
cases — but hullo, here is Lestrade ! Good afternoon, Lestrade ! 
You will find an extra tumbler upon the sideboard, and there are 
cigars in the box." 

The official detective was attired in a pea-jacket and cravat, which 


gave him a decidedly nautical appearance, and he carried a black 
canvas bag in his hand. With a short greeting he seated himself, 
and lit the cigar which had been offered to him. 

** What's up, then ? " asked Holmes, with a twinkle in his eye. 
*' You look dissatisfied." 

"And I feel dissatisfied. It is this infernal St. Simon marriage 
case. I can make neither head nor tail of the business." 

" Really ! You surprise me." 

" Who ever heard of such a mixed affair ? Every clue seems 
to slip through my fingers. I have been at work upon it all day." 

*' And very wet it seems to have made you," said Holmes, laying 
his hand upon the arm of the pea-jacket. 

" Yes, I have been dragging the Serpentine." 

*' In Heaven's name, what for ? " 

** In search of the body of Lady St. Simon." 

Sherlock Holmes leaned back in his chair and laughed 

" Have you dragged the basin of the Trafalgar-square fountain? " 
he asked. 

*' Why ? What do you mean ? " 

*' Because you have just as good a chance of finding this lady in 
the one as in the other." 

Lestrade shot an angry glance at my companion. " I suppose 
you know all about it," he snarled. 

** Well, I have only just heard the facts, but my mind is made 

" Oh, indeed ! Then you think that the Serpentine plays no 
part in the matter? " 

" I think it very unlikely." 

*' Then perhaps you will kindly explain how it is that we found 
this in it?" He opened his bag as he spoke, and tumbled on to 
the floor a wedding dress of watered silk, a pair of white satin 
shoes, and a bride's wreath and veil, all discoloured and soaked in 
water. "There," said he, putting a new wedding-ring upon the 
top of the pile. " There is a little nut for you to crack, Master 

"Oh, indeed," said my friend, blowing blue rings into the air. 
" You dragged them from the Serpentine ? " 

" No. They were found floating near the margin by a park- 



keeper. They have been identified as her clothes, and it seemed to 
me that if the clothes were there the body would not be far off." 

" By the same brilliant reasoning, every man's body is to be 
found in the neighbourhood of his wardrobe. And pray what did 
you hope to arrive at through this ? " 

*' At some evidence implicating Flora Millar in the dis- 

" I am afraid that you will find it difficult." 

** Are you indeed, now?" cried Lestrade, 
with some bitterness. *' I am afraid, Holmes, 
that you are not very piactical with your deduc- 

" ♦ THERE,' SAID HE." 

tions and your inferences. You have made two blunders in as many 
minutes. This dress does implicate Miss Flora Millar." 

" And how ? " 

*' In the dress is a pocket. In the pocket is a card-case. In 
the card-case is a note. And here is the very note." He slapped 
it down upon the table in front of him. '' Listen to this. ' You 
will see me when all is ready. Come at once. F. H. M.' Now 
my theory all along has been that Lady St. Simon was decoyed 
away by Flora Miller, and that she, with confederates no doubt, 
was responsible for her disappearance. Here, signed with her 
initials, is the very note which was no doubt quietly slipped into 
her hand at the door, and which lured her within their reach." 


** Very good, Lestrade," said Holmes, laughing. '* You really 
are very fine indeed. Let me see it." He took up the paper in a 
listless way, but his attention instantly became riveted, and he 
gave a little cry of satisfaction. *' This is indeed important," 
said he. 

'' Ha, you find it so ? " 

" Extremely so. I congratulate you warmly." 

Lestrade rose in his triumph and bent his head to look. "Why," 
he shrieked, " you're looking at the wrong side." 

*' On the contrar}^ this is the right side." 

" The right side ? You're mad ! Here is the note written in 
pencil over here." 

*' And over here is what appears to be the fragment of a hotel 
bill, which interests me deeply." 

** There's nothing in it. I looked at it before," said Lestrade. 
*' ' Oct. 4th, rooms 8s., breakfast 2s. 6d., cocktail is., lunch 2s. 6d., 
glass sherry, 8d.' I see nothing in that." 

** Very likely not. It is most important all the same. As to 
the note, it is important also, or at least the initials are, so I con- 
gratulate you again." 

*' I've wasted time enough," said Lestrade, rising, '' I believe in 
hard work, and not in sitting by the fire spinning fine theories. 
Good-day, Mr. Holmes, and we shall see which gets to the bottom 
of the matter first." He gathered up the garments, thrust them 
into the bag, and made for the door. 

" Just one hint to you, Lestrade," drawled Holmes, before his 
rival vanished ; " I will tell you the true solution of the matter. 
Lady St. Simon is a myth. There is not, and there never has been, 
any such person." 

Lestrade looked sadly at my companion. Then he turned to 
me, tapped his forehead three times, shook his head solemnly, and 
hurried avvav. 

He had hardly shut the. door behind him when Holmes rose 
and put on his overcoat. " There is something in what the fellow 
says about outdoor work," he remarked, " so I think, Watson, that 
I must leave you to your papers for a little." 

It was after five o'clock when Sherlock Holmes left me, but I 
had no time to be lonely, for within an hour there arrived a confec- 
tioner's man with a very large flat box. This he unpacked with the 


help of a youth whom he had brought with him, and presently, to 
my very great astonishment, a quite epicurean little cold supper 
began to be laid out upon our humble lodging-house mahogany. 
There were a couple of brace of cold w^oodcock, a pheasant, a pdic 
de foie gras pie, with a group of ancient and cobwebby bottles. 
'Having laid out all these luxuries, my two visitors vanished away, 
like the genii of the Arabian Nights, with no explanation save that 
the things had been paid for, and were ordered to this address. 

Just before nine o'clock Sherlock Holmes stepped briskly into 
the room. His features were gravely set, but there was a light in 
his eye which made me think that he had not been disappointed in 
his conclusions. 

" They have laid the supper, then," he said, rubbing his hands. 

" You seem to expect company. They have laid for five." 

" Yes, I fancy we may have some company dropping in," said 
he. " I am surprised that Lord St. Simon has not already arrived. 
Ha! I fancy that I hear his step now. upon the stairs." 

It was indeed our visitor of the morning who came bustling in, 
dangling his glasses more vigorously than ever, and with a very per- 
turbed expression upon his aristocratic features. 

" My messenger reached you, then ? " asked Holmes. 

"Yes, and I confess that the contents startled me beyond 
measure. Have you good authority for what you say ? " 

" The best possible." 

Lord St. Simon sank into a chair, and passed his hand over his 

*' What will the duke say," he murmured, *' when he hears that 
one of the family has been subjected to such a humiliation ? " 

*' It is the purest accident. I cannot allow that there is any 

'' Ah, you look on these things from another standpoint." 

** I fail to see that any one is to blame. I can hardly see how 
the lady could have acted otherwise, though her abrupt method of 
doing it was undoubtedly to be regretted. Having no mother she 
had no one to advise her at such a crisis." 

" It was a slight, sir, a public slight," said Lord St. Simon, 
tapping his fingers upon the table. 

" You must make allowance for this poor girl, placed in so 
unprecedented a position." 



*' I will make no allowance. I am very angry indeed, and I 
have been shamefully used." 

" I think that I heard a ring," said Holmes. ''Yes, there are 
steps on the landing. If I cannot persuade you to lake a lenient 
view of the matter, Lord St. Simon, I have brought an advocate 
here who may be more successful." He opened the door and 
ushered in a lady and gentleman. " Lord St. Simon," said he, 
"allow me to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Francis Hay Moulton. 
The lady, I think, you have already met." 


At the sight of these new-comers our client had sprung from his 
seat, and stood very erect, with his eyes cast down and his hand 
thrust into the breast of his frock coat, a picture of offended dignity. 
The lady had taken a quick step forward and had held out her hand 
to him, but he still refused to raise his eyes. It was as well for his 
resolution, perhaps, for her pleading face was one which it was hard 
to resist. 

*' You're angry, Robert," said she. " Well, I guess you have 
every cause to be." 

^^ Pray make no apology to me," said Lord St. Simon, bitterly. 


*' Oh yes, I know that I treated you real bad, and that I should 
have spoken to you before I went ; but I was kind of rattled, and 
from the time when I saw Frank here again, I just didn't know 
what I was doing or saying. I only wonder that I didn't fall down 
and do a faint right there before the altar." 

*' Perhaps, Mrs. Moulton, you would like my friend and me to 
leave the room while you explain this matter." 

*' If I may give an opinion," remarked the strange gentleman, 
*' we've had just a little too much secrecy over this business already. 
For my part, I should like all Europe and America to hear the 
rio-hts of it." He was a small, wiry, sunburned man, with a sharp 
face and alert manner. 

" Then I'll tell our story right away," said the lady. " Frank 
here and I met in '8i, in McQuire's camp, near the Rockies, where 
Pa was working a claim. We were engaged to each other, Frank 
and I ; but then one day father struck a rich pocket, and made a 
pile, while poor Frank here had a claim that petered out and came 
to nothing. The richer Pa grew, the poorer was Frank ; so at last 
Pa wouldn't hear of our engagement lasting any longer, and he took 
me away to 'Frisco. Frank wouldn't throw up his hand, though ; 
so he followed me there, and he saw me without Pa knowing any- 
thin o- about it. It would only have made him mad to know, so we 
just fixed it all up for ourselves. Frank said that he would go and 
make his pile, too, and never come back to claim me until he had as 
much as Pa. So then I promised to wait for him to the end of 
time, and pledged myself not to marry any one else while he lived. 
* Why shouldn't we be married right away, then,' said he, 'and then 
I will feel sure of you ; and I won't claim to be your husband until 
I come back.' Well, we talked it over, and he had fixed it all up so 
nicely, with a clergyman all ready in waiting, that we just did it 
right there ; and then Frank went off to seek his fortune and I went 

back to Pa. 

*' The next that I heard of Frank was that he was in Montana, 
and then he went prospecting into Arizona, and then I heard of him 
from New Mexico. After that came a long newspaper story about 
how a miners' camp had been attacked by Apache Indians, and 
there was my Frank's name among the killed. I fainted dead away, 
and I was very sick for months after. Pa thought I had a decline, 
and took me to half the doctors in 'Frisco. Not a word of news 


came for a year and more, so that I never doubted that Frank was 
really dead. Then Lord St. Simon came to 'Frisco, and we came 
to London, and a marriage was arranged, and Pa was very pleased, 
but I felt all the time that no man on this earth would ever take the 
place in my heart that had been given to my poor Frank. 

*' Still, if I had married Lord St. Simon, of course I'd have done 
my duty by him. We can't command our love, but we can our 
actions. I went to the altar with him with the intention that I 
would make him just as good a wife as it was in me to be. But you 
may imagine what I felt when, just as I came to the altar rails, 
I glanced back and saw Frank standing looking at me out of the 
first pew. I thought it was his ghost at first ; but, when I looked 
again, there he was still, with a kind of question in his eyes as if 
to ask me whether I were glad or sorry to see him, I wonder I 
didn't drop. I know that everything was turning round, and the 
words of the clergyman were just like the buzz of a bee in my ear. 
I didn't know what to do. Should I stop the service and make a 
scene in the church ? I glanced at him again, and he seemed to 
know what I was thinking, for he raised his finger to his lips to tell 
me to be still. Then I saw him scribble on a piece of paper, and I 
knew that he was writing me a note. As I passed his pew on the 
way out I dropped my bouquet over to him, and he slipped the note 
into my hand when he returned me the flowers. It was only a line 
asking me to join him when he made the sign to me to do so. Of 
course I never doubted for a moment that my first duty now was to 
him, and I determined to do just whatever he might direct. 

*'When I got back I told my maid, who had known him in 
California, and had always been his friend. I ordered her to say 
nothing, but to get a few things packed and my ulster ready. I 
know I ought to have spoken to Lord St. Simon, but it was dreadful 
hard before his mother and all those great people. I just made up 
my mind to run away, and explain afterwards. I hadn't been at 
the table ten minutes before I saw Frank out of the window at the 
other side of the road. He beckoned to me, and then began walkin"- 
into the Park. I slipped out, put on my things, and followed him. 
Some woman came talking something or other about Lord St. 
Simon to me— seemed to me from the little I heard as if he had a 
little secret of his own before marriage also — but I managed to o-et 
away from her, and soon overtook Frank. We got into a cab 



together, and away we drove to some lodgings he had taken in 
Gordon- square, and that was my true wedding after all those years 
of waiting. Frank had been a prisoner among the Apaches, had 
escaped, came on to 'Frisco, found that I had given him up for 
dead and had gone to England, followed me there, and had come 
upon me at last on the very morning of my second wedding." 


" I saw it in a paper," explained the American. '' It gave the 
name and the church, but not where the lady lived." 

*' Then we had a talk as to what we should do, and Frank was 
all for openness, but I was so ashamed of it all that I felt as'if I 
would like to vanish away and never see any of them again, just 
sending a line to Pa, perhaps, to show him that I was alive. It 



was awful to me to think of all those lords and ladies sitting round 
that breakfast table, and waiting for me to come back. So Frank 
took my wedding clothes and things, and made a bundle of them 
so that I should not be traced, and dropped them away somewhere 
where no one should find them. It is likely that we should have 
gone on to Paris to-morrow, only that this good gentleman, Mr. 
Holmes, came round to us this evening, though how he found us is 
more than I can think, and he showed us very clearly and kindly 
that I was wrong and that Frank was right, and that we should put 
ourselves in the wrong if we were so secret. Then he offered to 
give us a chance of talking to Lord St. Simon alone, and so we 
came right away round to his rooms at once. Now, Robert, you 
have heard it all, and I am very sorry if I have given you pain, and 
I hope that you do not think very meanly of me." 

Lord St. Simon had by no means relaxed his rigid attitude, but 
had listened with a frowning brow and a compressed lip to this long 
narrative. ^ 

" Excuse me," he said, '' but it is not my custom to discuss my 
most intimate personal affairs in this public manner." 

" Then you won't forgive me ? You won't shake hands before 
I go ? " 

'•' Oh, certainly, if it would give you any pleasure." He put cut 
his hand and coldly grasped that which she extended to him. 

"I had hoped," suggested Holmes, ''that you would have joined 
us in a friendly supper." 

" I think that there you ask a little too much," responded his 
lordship. '' I may be forced to acquiesce in these recent develop- 
ments, but I can hardly be expected to make merry over them. I 
think that, with your permission, I will now wish you all a very 
good-night." He included us all in a sweeping bow, and stalked out 
of the room. 

"Then I trust that you at least will honour me with your 
company," said Sherlock Holmes. "It is always a joy to me to 
meet an American, Mr. Moulton, for I am one of those who believe 
that the folly of a monarch and the blundering of a Minister in far 
gone years will not prevent our children from being some day 
citizens of the same world-wide country under a flag which- shall 
be a quartering of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes." 




*' The case has been an interesting one," remarked Holmes, 
when our visitors had left us, " because it serves to show very 
clearly how simple the explanation may be of an affair which at 
first sight seems to be almost inexplicable. Nothing could be more 
inexplicable. Nothing could be more natural than the sequence of 
events as narrated by this lady, and nothing stranger than the 
result when viewed, for instance, by Mr. Lestrade of Scotland- 


" You were not yourself at fault at all, then ? " 

" From the first, two facts were very obvious 
to me, the one that the lady had been quite willing 
to undergo the wedding ceremony, the other that she had repented 
of it within a few minutes of returning home. Obviously something 
had occurred during the morning, then, to cause her to change her 
mind. What could that something be ? She could not have spoken to 
any one when she was out, for she had been in the company of the 
bridegroom. Had she seen some one, then ? If she had, it must 
be some one from America, because she had spent so short a time in 
this country that she could hardly have allowed any one to acquire 
so deep an influence over her that the mere sight of him would 
induce her to change her plans so completely. You see we have 


already arrived, by a process of exclusion, at the idea that she might 
have seen an American. Then who could this American be, and 
why should he possess so much influence over her ? It might be 
a lover ; it might be a husband. Her young womanhood had, I 
knew, been spent in rough scenes, and under strange conditions. So 
far had I got before I ever heard Lord St. Simon's narrative. When 
he told us of a man in a pew, of the change in the bride's manner, 
of so transparent a device of obtaining a note as the dropping of a 
bouquet, of her resort to her confidential maid, and of her very 
significant allusion to claim-jumping, which in miners' parlance 
means taking possession of that which another person has a prior 
claim to, the whole situation became absolutely clear. She had 
gone off with a man, and the man was either a lover or w^as a 
previous husband, the chances being in favour of the latter." 

" And how in the world did you find them ? " 

*' It might have been difficult, but friend Lestrade held informa- 
tion in his hands the value of which he did not himself know. The 
initials were of course of the highest importance, but more valuable 
still was it to know that within a week he had settled his bill at one 
of the most select London hotels." 

" How did you deduce the select ? " 

" By the select prices. Eight shillings for a bed and eightpence 
for a glass of sherry, pointed to one of the most expensive hotels. 
There are not many in London which charge at that rate. In the 
second one which I visited in Northumberland-avenue, I learned by 
an inspection of the book that Francis H. Moulton, an American 
gentleman, had left only the day before, and on looking over the 
entries against him, I came upon the very items which I had seen 
in the duplicate bill. His letters were to be forwarded to 226, 
Gordon-square, so thither I travelled, and being fortunate enough 
to find the loving couple at home, I ventured to give them some 
paternal advice, and to point out to them that it w^ould be better in 
every w^ay that they should make their position a little clearer, both 
to the general public and to Lord St. Simon in particular. I invited 
them to meet him here, and, as you see, I made him keep the 

" But with no very good result," I remarked. '* His conduct 
was certainly not very gracious." 

"Ah ! Watson," said Holmes, smiling, "perhaps you would not 


be very gracious either, if, after all the trouble of wooing and 
wedding, you found yourself deprived in an instant of wife and of 
fortune. I think that we may judge Lord St. Simon ver}' merci- 
fully, and thank our stars that we are never likely to find ourselves 
in the same position. Draw your chair up, and hand me my violin, 
for the only problem which we have still to solve is how to while 
away these bleak autumnal evenings." 



OLMES," said I, as I stood one morning in our bow 
window looking down the street, " here is a mad- 
man coming along. It seems rather sad that his 
relatives should allow him to come out alone." 

My friend rose lazily from his armchair, and stood 
with his hands in the pockets of his dressing-gown, looking over my 
shoulder. It was a bright, crisp February morning, and the snow 
of the day before still lay deep upon the ground, shimmering 
brightly in the wintry sun. Down the centre of Baker-street it 
had been ploughed into a brown crumbly band by the traffic, but 
at either side and on the heaped-up edges of the footpaths it still 
lay as white as when it fell. The grey pavement had been cleaned 
and scraped, but was still dangerously slippery, so that there were 
fewer passengers than usual. Indeed, from the direction of the 
Metropolitan Station no one was coming save the single gentleman 
whose eccentric conduct had drawn my attention. 

He was a man of about fifty, tall, portly, and imposing, with a 
massive, strongly marked face and a commanding figure. He was 
dressed in a sombre yet rich style, in black frock-coat, shining hat, 
neat brown gaiters, and well-cut pearl grey trousers. Yet his 
actions were in absurd contrast to the dignity of his dress and 
features, for he was running hard, with occasional little springs, 
such as a weary man gives who is little accustomed to set any tax 
upon his legs. As he ran he jerked his hands up and down, waggled 
his head, and writhed his face into the most extraordinary contor- 

*' What on earth can be the matter with him? " I asked. "He 
is looking up at the numbers of the houses." 

" I believe that he is coming here," said Holmes, rubbing his 






"Yes; I rather think he is coming to consult me professionally. 
I think that I recognise the symptoms. Ha! did I not tell you?" 
As he spoke, the man, puffing and blowing, rushed at our door, 
and pulled at our bell until the whole house resounded with the 

A few moments later he was in our room, still puffing, still 
gesticulating, but with so fixed a look of grief and despair in his 
eyes that our smiles were turned in an instant to horror and pity. 


For a while he could not get his words out, but swayed his body 
and plucked at his hair like one who has been driven to the extreme 
limits of his reason. Then, suddenly springing to his feet, he beat 
his head against the wall with such force that we both rushed upon 
him, and tore him away to the centre of the room. Sherlock Holmes 
pushed him down into the easy-chair, and, sitting beside him, patted 
his hand, and chatted with him in the easy, soothing tones which 
he knew so well how to employ. 

" You have come to me to tell me your stor}', have you not ? " 
said he. ** You are fatigued with your haste. Pray wait until you 


have recovered yourself, and then I shall be most happy to look into 
any little problem which you may submit to me." 

The man sat for a minute or more with a heaving chest, fighting 
against his emotion. Then he passed his handkerchief over his 
brow, set his lips tight, and turned his face towards us." 

" No doubt you think me mad ? " said he. 

'' I see that you have had some great trouble," responded 

"God knows I have! — a trouble which is enough to unseat my 
reason, so sudden and so terrible is it. Public disgrace I might 
have faced, although I am a man whose character has never yet 
borne a stain. Private affliction also is the lot of every man ; but 
the two coming together, and in so frightful a form, have been 
enough to shake my very soul. Besides, it is not I alone. The 
very noblest in the land may suffer, unless some way be found out 
of this horrible affair." 

*' Pray compose yourself, sir," said Holmes, " and let me have 
a clear account of who you are, and what it is that has befallen 

*' My name," answered our visitor, *' is probably familiar to your 
ears. I am Alexander Holder, of the banking firm of Holder & 
Stevenson, of Threadneedle-street." 

The name was indeed well known to us, as belonging to the 
senior partner in the second largest private banking concern in the 
City of London. What could have happened, then, to bring one of 
the foremost citizens of London to this most pitiable pass ? We 
waited, all curiosity, until with another effort he braced himself to 
tell his story. 

*' I feel that time is of value," said he, '*that is why I hastened 
here when the police inspector suggested that I should secure your 
co-operation. I came to Baker-street by the Underground, and 
hurried from there on foot, for the cabs go slowly through this snow. 
That is why I was so out of breath, for I am a man who takes very 
little exercise. I feel better now, and I will put the facts before you 
as shortly and yet as clearly as I can. 

*' It is, of course, well known to you that in a successful banking 
business as much depends upon our being able to find remunerative 
investments for our funds, as upon our increasing our connection and 
the number of our depositors. One of our most lucrative means of 


laying out money is in the shape of loans, where the security is 
unimpeachable. We have done a good deal in this direction during 
the last few years, and there are many noble families to whom we 
have advanced large sums upon the security of their pictures, libra- 
ries, or plate. 

*' Yesterday morning I was seated in my office at the Bank, 
when a card was brought into me by one of the clerks. I started 

when I saw the name, for it was that of none other than well, 

perhaps even to you I had better say no more than that it was a 
name which is a household word all over the earth — one of the 
highest, noblest, most exalted names in England. I was over- 
whelmed by the honour, and attempted, when he entered, to say 
so, but he plunged at once into business with the air of a man who 
wishes to hurry quickly through a disagreeable task. 

*' * Mr. Holder,' said he, * I have been informed that you are in 
the habit of advancing money.' 

*' 'The firm do so when the security is good,' I answered. 

*' * It is absolutely essential to me,' said he, ' that I should have 
fifty thousand pounds at once. I could of course borrow so trifling 
a sum ten times over from my friends, but I much prefer to make it 
a matter of business, and to carry out that business myself. In my 
position you can readily understand that it is unwise to place oneself 
under obligations.' 

*' * For how long, may I ask, do you want this sum ? ' I asked. 

*' * Next Monday I have a large sum due to me, and I shall then 
most certainly repay what you advance, with whatever interest you 
think it right to charge. But it is very essential to me that the 
money should be paid at once.' 

*' ' I should be happy to advance it without further parley from 
my own private purse,' said I, ' were it not that the strain would be 
rather more than it could bear. If, on the other hand, I am to do 
it in the name of the firm, then in justice to my partner I must 
insist that, even in your case, every business-like precaution should 
be taken.' 

" ' I should much prefer to have it so,' said he, raising up a 
square, black morocco case which he had laid beside his chair. 
' You have doubtless heard of the Beryl coronet ? ' 

*' ' One of the most precious public possessions of the Empire,' 
said I. 



" * Precisely.' He opened the case, and there, embedded in soft, 
flesh-coloured velvet, lay the magnificent piece of jewellery which 
he had named. * There are thirty-nine enormous beryls/ said he, 
* and the price of the gold chasing is incalculable. The lowest 
estimate would put the worth of the coronet at double the sum 
which I have asked. I am prepared to leave it with you as my 

*' I took the precious case into my hands and looked in some 
perplexity from it to my illustrious client. 

**' You doubt its 
value ? " he asked. 

"*Not at all. 
I only doubt ' 

*" The propriety 
of my leaving it. 
You may set your 
mind at rest about 
that. I should not 
dream of doing so 
were it not abso- 
lutely certain that - 
I should be able in 
four days to reclaim 
it. It is a pure 
matter of form. Is 
the security suffi- 
cient ? ' :- -,. 

*'' Ample.' 

*''You under- 
stand, Mr. Holder, 
that I am giving 

you a strong proof of the confidence which I have in you, founded 
upon all that I have heard of you. I rely upon you not only to 
be discreet and to refrain from all gossip upon the matter, but, above 
all, to preserve this coronet with every possible precaution, because I 
need not say that a great public scandal would be caused if any harm 
were to befall it. Any injury to it would be almost as serious as 
its complete loss, for there are no beryls in the world to match 
these, and it would be impossible to replace them. I leave it wilh 



you, however, with every confidence, and I shall call for it in person 
on Monday morning.' 

'' Seeing that my client was anxious to leave, I said no more; 
but, calling for my cashier, I ordered him to pay over fifty thousand- 
pound notes. When I was alone once more, however, with the 
precious case lying upon the table in front of me, I could not but 
think with some misgivings of the immense responsibility which it 
entailed upon me. There could be no doubt that, as it was a 
national possession, a horrible scandal would ensue if any misfortune 
should occur to it. I already regretted having ever consented to 
take charge of it. However, it was too late to alter the matter 
now, so I locked it up in my private safe, and turned once more to 
my work. 

" When evening came, I felt that it would be an imprudence to 
leave so precious a thing in the office behind me. Bankers' safes 
had been forced before now, and why should not mine be ? If so, 
how terrible would be the position in which I should find myself ! 
I determined, therefore, that for the next few days I would always 
carry the case backwards and forwards with me, so that it might 
never be really out of my reach. With this intention, I called a 
cab, and drove out to my house at Streatham, carrying the jewel 
with me. I did not breathe freely until I had taken it upstairs, and 
locked it in the bureau of my dressing-room. 

** And now a word as to my household, Mr. Holmes, for I wish 
you to thoroughly understand the situation. My groom and my 
page sleep out of the house, and may be set aside altogether. I 
have three maid-servants who have been with me a number of years, 
and whose absolute reliability is quite above suspicion. Another, 
Lucy Parr, the second waiting-maid, has only been in my service a 
few months. She came with an excellent character, however, and 
has always given me satisfaction. She is a very pretty girl, and 
has attracted admirers who have occasionally hung about the place. 
That is the only drawback which we have found to her, but we 
believe her to be a thoroughly good girl in every way. 

*' So much for the servants. My family itself is so small that it 
will not take me long to describe it. I am a widower, and have an 
only son, Arthur. He has been a disappointment to me, Mr. 
Holmes — a grievous disappointment. I have no doubt that I am 
myself to blame. People tell me that I have spoiled him. Very 


likely I have. When my dear wife died I felt that he was all I had 
to love. I could not bear to see the smile fade even for a moment 
from his face. I have never denied him a wish. Perhaps it would 
have been better for both of us had I been sterner, but I meant it 
for the best. 

** It was naturally my intention that he should succeed me in 
my business, but he was not of a business turn. He was wild, 
wayward, and, to speak the truth, I could not trust him in the 
handling of large sums of money. When he was young he became 
a member of an aristocratic club, and there, having charming 
manners, he was soon the intimate of a number of men with long 
purses and expensive habits. He learned to play heavily at cards 
and to squander money on the turf, until he had again and again 
to come to me and implore me to give him an advance upon his 
allowance, that he might settle his debts of honour. He tried more 
than once to break away from the dangerous company which he 
was keeping, but each time the influence of his friend Sir George 
Burnwell was enough to draw him back again. 

'* And, indeed, I could not wonder that such a man as Sir 
George Burnwell should gain an influence over him, for he has 
frequently brought him to my house, and I have found myself that 
I could hardly resist the fascination of his manner. He is older 
than Arthur, a man of the world to his finger-tips, one who had 
been everywhere, seen everything, a brilliant talker, and a man of 
great personal beauty. Yet when I think of him in cold blood, far 
away from the glamour of his presence, I am convinced from his 
cynical speech, and the look which I have caught in his eyes, that 
he is one who should be deeply distrusted. So I think, and so, too, 
thinks my little Mary, who has a woman's quick insight into 

*' And now there is only she to be described. She is my niece ; 
but when my brother died five years ago and left her alone in the 
world I adopted her, and have looked upon her ever since as my 
daughter. She is a sunbeam in my house — sweet, loving, beautiful, 
a wonderful manager and housekeeper, yet as tender and quiet and 
gentle as a woman could be. She is my right hand. I do not 
know what I could do without her. In only one matter has she 
ever gone against my wishes. Twice my boy has asked her to 
marry him, for he loves her devotedly, but each time she has 



refused him. I think that if any one could have drawn him into the 
right path it would have been she, and that his marriage might 
have changed his whole life; but now, alas ! it is too late — for ever 
too late ! 

*' Now, Mr. Holmes, you know the people who live under my 
roof, and I shall continue with my miserable story. 

" When we were taking coffee in the drawing room that night, 
after dinner, I told Arthur and Mary my experience, and of the 
precious treasure which we had under our roof, suppressing only 
the name of my client. Lucy Parr, who had brought in the coffee, 
had, I am sure, left the room ; but I cannot swear that the door 


was closed. Mary and Arthur were much interested, and wished 
to sec the famous coronet, but I thought it better not to disturb it. 

** * Where have you put it ? ' asked Arthur. 

" * In my own bureau.' 

*' ' Well, I hope to goodness the house won't be burgled during 
the night,' said he. 

" ' It is locked up,' I answered. 

'' * Oh, any old key will fit that bureau. When I was a 
youngster I have opened it myself with the key of the box-room 

" He often had a wild way of talking, so that I thought little of 


what he said. He followed me to my room, however, that night 
with a very grave face. 

*' ' Look here, dad,' said he, with his eyes cast down. ' Can you 
let me have two hundred pounds ? ' 

" ' No, I cannot! ' I answered, sharply. ' I have been far too 
generous with you in money matters.' 

'''You have been very kind,' said he; 'but I must have this 
money, or else I can never show my face inside the club again.' 
" ' And a very good thing, too ! ' I cried. 

" ' Yes, but you would not have me leave it a dishonoured man,' 
said he. ' I could not bear the disgrace. I must raise the money 
in some way, and if you will not let me have it, then I must try 
other means.' 

" I was very angry, for this was the third demand during the 
month. 'You shall not have a farthing from me,' I cried, on which 
he bowed and left the room without another word. 

" When he was gone I unlocked my bureau, made sure that my 
treasure was safe, and locked it again. Then 1 started to go round 
the house to see that all was secure — a duty which I usually leave 
to Mary, but which I thought it well to perform myself that night. 
As I came down the stairs I saw Mary herself at the side window of 
the hall, which she closed and fastened as I approached. 

" ' Tell me, dad,' said she, looking, I thought, a little disturbed, 
' did you give Lucy, the maid, leave to go out to-night ? ' 
" ' Certainly not.' 

" ' She came in just now by the back door. I have no doubt 
that she has only been to the side gate to see some one, but I think 
that it is hardly safe, and should be stopped." 

" ' You must speak to her in the morning, or I will, if you 
prefer it. Are you sure that everything is fastened ? ' 
" ' Quite sure, dad.' 

"'Then, good-night.' I kissed her, and went to my bedroom 
again, where I was soon asleep. 

" I am endeavouring to tell you everything, Mr. Holmes, which 

may have any bearing upon the case, but I beg that you will 

question me upon any point which I do not make clear." 

" On the contrary, your statement is singularly lucid." 

" I come to a part of my story now in which I should wish to be 

particularly so. I am ^not a very heavy sleeper, and the anxiety in 



my mind tended, no doubt, to make me even less so than usual. 
About two in the morning, then, I was awakened by some sound 
in the house. It had ceased ere I was wide awake, but it had left 
an impression behind it as though a window had gently closed 
somewhere. I lay listening with all my ears. Suddenly, to my 
horror, there was a distinct sound of footsteps moving softly in the 
next room. I slipped out of bed, all palpitating with fear, and 
peeped round the corner of my dressing-room door. 

screamed, * you 
villain! you thief! 
How dare you 
touch that coro- 
net? ' 

The gas was 
^ half up, as I had 
left it, and my 
unhappy boy, 
dressed only in 
his shirt and 
trousers, was 
standing beside 
the light, holding 
the coronet in 
his hands. He 
appeared to be 
wrenching at it, 
or bending it with 
all his strength. 
At my cry he 
dropped it from 
his grasp, and 
turned as pale as death; I snatched it up and examined it. One of 
the gold corners, with three of the beryls in it, was missing. 

** ' You blackguard ! ' I shouted, beside myself with rage. ' You 
have destroyed it ! You have dishonoured me for ever ! Where 
are the jewels which you have stolen ? ' 
*' 'Stolen ! ' he cried. 
•* ' Yes, you thief! ' I roared, shaking him by the shoulder. 



*' ' There are none missing. There cannot be any missing,' saiJ 

"'There are three missing. And you know where they are. 
Must I call you a liar as well as a thief? Did I not see you trying 
to tear off another piece ? ' 

*' * You have called me names enough,' said he, * I will not stand 
it any longer. 1 shall not say another word about this business 
since you have chosen to insult me. I will leave your house in the 
morning, and make my own way in the world.' 

*' ' You shall leave it in the hands of the police ! ' I cried, half 
mad with grief and rage. ' I shall have this matter probed to the 

*' ' You shall learn nothing from me,' said he, with a passion 
such as I should not have thought was in his nature. ' If you 
choose to call the police, let the police find what they can.' 

" By this time the whole house was astir, for I had raised my 
voice in my anger. Mary was the first to rush into my room, and, 
at the sight of the coronet and of Arthur's face, she read the whole 
story, and, with a scream, fell down senseless on the ground. I sent 
the housemaid for the police, and put the investigation into their 
hands at once. When the inspector and a constable entered the 
house, Arthur, who had stood sullenly with his arms folded, asked me 
whether it was my intention to charge him with theft. I answered 
that it had ceased to be a private matter, but had become a public 
one, since the ruined coronet was national property. I was 
determined that the law should have its way in everything. 

*' * At least,' said he, *you will not have me arrested at once. It 
would be to your advantage as well as mine if I might leave the 
house for five minutes.' 

*''That you may get away, or perhaps that you may conceal 
what you have stolen,' said I. And then realising the dreadful 
position in which I was placed, I implored him to remember that 
not only my honour, but that of one who was far greater than I was 
at stake ; and that he threatened to raise a scandal which would 
convulse the nation. He might avert it all if he would but tell me 
what he had done with the three missing stones. 

" ' You may as well face the matter,' said I ; 'you have been 
caught in the act, and no confession could make your guilt more 
heinous. If you but make such reparation as is in your power, 


by telling us where the beryls are, all shall be forgiven and for- 

" * Keep your forgiveness for those who ask for it,' he answered, 
turning away from me with a sneer. I saw that he was too har- 
dened for any words of mine to influence him. There was but one 
way for it. I called in the inspector, and gave him into custody. 
A search wrs made at once, not only of his person, but of his room, 
and of every portion of the house where he could possibly have 
concealed the gems; but no trace of them could be found, nor would 
the wretched boy open his mouth for all our persuasions and our 
threats. This morning he was removed to a cell, and I, after going 
through all the police formalities, have hurried round to you, to 
implore you to use your skill in unravelling the matter. The police 
have openly confessed that they can at present make nothing of it. 
You may go to any expense which you think necessary. I have 
already offered a reward of a thousand pounds. My God, what 
shall I do ! I have lost my honour, my gems, and my son in one 
night. Oh, what shall I do ! " 

He put a hand on either side of his head, and rocked himself to 
and fro, droning to himself like a child whose grief has got beyond 

Sherlock Holmes sat silent for some few minutes, with his brows 
knitted and his eyes fixed upon the fire. 

" Do you receive much company ? " he asked. 

"None, save my partner with his family, and an occasional 
fiiend of Arthur's. Sir George Burnwell has been several times 
lately. No one else, I think." 

" Do you go out much in society ? " 

*' Arthur does. Mary and I stay at home. We neither of us 
care for it." 

*' That is unusual in a young girl." 

*' She is of a quiet nature. Besides, she is not so very young. 
She is four-and-twenty." 

" This matter, from what you say, seems to have been a shock 
to her also." 

*' Terrible ! She is even more affected than I." 

" You have neither of you any doubt as to your son's guilt ? " 

*' How can we have, when I saw him with my own eyes with 
the coronet in his hands." 


" I hardly consider that a conclusive proof. Was the remainder 
of the coronet at all injured ? " 

*' Yes, it was twisted." 

*' Do you not think, then, that he might have been trying to 
straighten it ? " 

" God bless you ! You are doing what you can for him and for 
me. But it is too heavy a task. What was he doing there at all? 
If his purpose were innocent, why did he not say so ? " 

*' Precisely. And if he were guilty, why did he not invent a lie ? 
His silence appears to me to cut both ways. There are several 
singular points about the case. What did the police think of the 
noise which awoke you from your sleep ? ** 

"They considered that it might be caused by Arthur's closing his 
bedroom door." 

" A likely story ! As if a man bent on felony would slam his 
door so as to awake a household. What did they say, then, of the 
disappearance of these gems? " 

*' They are still sounding the planking and probing the furniture 
in the hope of finding them." 

** Have they thought of looking outside the house ? " 

" Yes, they have shown extraordinary energy. The whole 
garden has already been minutely examined." 

" Now, my dear sir," said Holmes, " is it not obvious to you 
now that this matter really strikes very much deeper than either you 
or the police were at first inclined to think ? It appeared to you to 
be a simple case ; to me it seems exceedingly complex. Consider 
what is involved by your theory. You suppose that your son came 
down from his bed, went, at great risk, to your dressing-room, 
opened your bureau, took out your coronet, broke off by main force 
a small portion of it, went off to some other place, concealed three 
gems out of the thirty-nine, with such skill that nobody can find 
them, and then returned with the other thirty-six into the room in 
which he exposed himself to the greatest danger of being discovered. 
I ask you now, is such a theory tenable ? " 

*' But what other is there ? " cried the banker with a gesture of 
despair. ** If his motives were innocent, why does he not explain 
them ? " 

" It is our task to find that out," replied Holmes, " so now, if 
you please, Mr. Holder, we wAW set off for Streatham together, 



and devote an hour to glancing a little more closely into 

My friend insisted upon my accompanying them in their expedi- 
tion, which I was eager enough to do, for my curiosity and sym- 
pathy were deeply stirred by the story to which we had listened. I 
confess that the guilt of the banker's son appeared to me to be as 
obvious as it did to his unhappy father, but still I had such faith in 
Holmes' judgment that I felt that there must be some grounds for 
hope as long as he was dissatisfied with the accepted explanation. 
He hardly spoke a word the whole way out to the southern suburb, 
but sat with his chin upon his breast, and his hat drawn over his 
eyes, sunk in the deepest thought. Our client appeared to have 
taken fresh heart at the little glimpse of hope which had been 
presented to him, and he even broke into a desultory chat with me 
over his business affairs. A short railway journey, and a shorter 
walk, brought us to Fairbank, the modest residence of the great 

Fairbank was a good-sized square house of white stone, standing 
back a little from the road. A double carriage sweep, with a snow- 
clad lawn, stretched down in front to the two large iron gates which 
closed the entrance. On the right side was a small wooden thicket 
which led into a narrow path between two neat hedges stretching 
from the road to the kitchen door, and forming the tradesmen's 
entrance. On the left ran a lane which led to the stables, and was 
not itself within the grounds at all, being a public, though little 
used, thoroughfare. Holmes left us standing at the door, and 
walked slowly all round the house, across the front, down the 
tradesmen's path, and so round by the garden behind into the stable 
lane. So long was he that Mr. Holder and I went into the dining- 
room, and waited by the fire until he should return. We were 
sitting there in silence when the door opened, and a young lady 
came in. She was rather above the middle height, slim, with dark 
hair and eyes, which seenied the darker against the absolute pallor 
of her skin. I do not think that I have ever seen such deadly pale- 
ness in a woman's face. Her lips, too, were bloodless, but her eyes 
were flushed with crying. As she swept silently into the room she 
im.pressed me with a greater sense of her grief than the banker had 
done in the morning, and it was the more striking in her as she was 
evidently a woman of strong character, with immense capacity for 




self-restraint. Disregarding my presence, she went straight to 
her uncle, and passed her hand over his head with a sweet womanly 

" You have given orders that Arthur should be liberated, have 
you not, dad ? " she asked. 

" No, no, my girl, the matter must be probed to the bottom." 

" But I am so sure that he is innocent. You know what 
women's instincts are. I know that he has done no harm, and that 
you will be sorry for having acted so harshly." 

" Why is he silent, then, if he is innocent ? " 


*' Who knows ? Perhaps because he was so angry that you 
should suspect him." 

" How could I help suspecting him, when I actually saw him 
with the coronet in his hand ? " 

**0h, but he had only picked it up to look at it. Oh, do, do 
take my word for it that he is innocent. Let the matter drop, and 
say no more. It is so dreadful to think of our dear Arthur in 


''I shall never let it drop until the gems are found — never, Mary! 
Your affection for Arthur blinds you as to the awful consequences 


to me. Far from hushing the thing up, I have blrought ^ gentle^ 
man down from London to inquire more deeply into it." 

** This gentleman ? " she asked, facing round to me. 

*' No, his friend. He wished us to leave him alone. He is 
round in the stable lane now." 

*' The stable lane ? " She raised her dark eyebrows. *' What 
can he hope to find there ! Ah, this, I suppose, is he. I trust, sir, 
that you will succeed in proving, what I feel sure is the truth, that 
my cousin Arthur is innocent of this crime." 

*' I fully share your opinion, and, I trust with you, that we may 
prove it," returned Holmes, going back to the mat to knock the 
snow from his shoes. *' I believe I have the honour of addressing 
Miss Mary Holder. Might I ask you a question or two ? " 

*' Prav do, sir, if it may help to clear this horrible affair 


*' You heard nothing yourself last night ? " 

*' Nothing, until my uncle here began to speak loudly. I heard 
that, and I came down." 

" You shut up the windows and doors the night before. Did 
you fasten all the windows ? " 

•* Yes." 

*' Were they all fastened this morning ? " 

'* Yes." 

"You have a maid who has a sweetheart? I think that you 
remarked to your uncle last night that she had been out to see 

*' Yes, and she was the girl who waited in the drawing-room, and 
who may have heard uncle's remarks about the coronet." 

*' I see. You infer that she may have gone out to tell her sweet- 
heart, and that the two may have planned the robbery." 

" But what is the good of all these vague theories," cried the 
banker, impatiently, *' when I have told you that I saw Arthur with 
the coronet in his hands? " 

" Wait a little, Mr. Holder. We must come back to that. 
About this girl, Miss Holder. You saw her return by the kitchen 
door, I presume ? " 

*' Yes ; when I went to see if the door was fastened for the night 
I met her slipping in. I saw the man, too, in the gloom." 

" Do you know him ? " 



" Oh, yes ; he is the greengrocer who brings our vegetables 
round. His name is Francis Prosper." 

"He stood," said Holmes, "to the left of the door — that is to 
say, further up the path than is necessary to reach the door ? " 

"Yes, he did." 

" And he is a man with a wooden leg ? " 

Something like 
fear sprang up in 
the young lady's 
expressive black 
eyes. " Why, you 
are like a magi- 
cian," said she. 
" How do you know 
that?" She smiled, 
but there was no 
answering smile in 
Holmes' thin, eager 

"I should be 
very glad now to 
go upstairs," said 
he. " I shall pro- 
bably wish to go 
over the outside of 
the house again. 
Perhaps I had 
better take a look 
at the lower win- 
dows before I go 

He walked swiftly round from one to the other, pausing only at 
the large one which looked from the hall on to the stable lane. 
This he opened, and made a very careful examination of the sill 
with his powerful magnifying lens. " Now we shall go upstairs," 
said he, at last. 

The banker's dressing-room was a plainly-furnished little 
chamber with a grey carpet, a large bureau, and a long mirror. 
Holmes went to the bureau first, and looked hard at the lock, 

lady's EYES." 


" Which key was used to open it ? " he asked. 

'' That which my son himself indicated — that of the cupboard of 
the lumber-room." 

" Have you it here ? " 

" That is it on the dressing-table." 

Sherlock Holmes took it up and opened the bureau. 

" It is a noiseless lock," said he. " It is no wonder that it did not 
wake you. This case, I presume, contains the coronet. We must 
have a look at it." He opened the case, and, taking out the diadem, 
he laid it upon the table. It was a magnificent specimen of the 
jeweller's art, and the thirty-six stones were the finest that I have 
ever seen. At one side of the coronet was a crooked cracked edge, 
where a corner holding three gems had been torn away. 

*' Now, Mr. Holder," said Holmes ; '^ here is the corner which 
corresponds to that which has been so unfortunately lost. Might I 
beg that you will break it off." 

The banker recoiled in horror. *' I should not dream of 
trying," said he. 

" Then I will." Holmes suddenly bent his strength upon it, but 
without result. "I feel it give a little," said he; "but, though I am 
exceptionally strong in the fingers, it would take me all my time to 
break it. An ordinary man could not do it. Now, what do you 
think would happen if I did break it, Mr. Holder? There would be 
a noise like a pistol shot. Do you tell me that all this happened 
within a few yards of your bed, and that you heard nothing of it ? " 

''I do not know what to think. It is all dark to me." 

"But perhaps it may grow lighter as we go. What do you 
think, Miss Holder?" 

*' I confess that I still share my uncle's perplexity." 

" Your son had no shoes or slippers on when you saw him ? " 

" He had nothing on save only his trousers and shirt." 

" Thank you. We have certainly been favoured with extraordi- 
nary luck during this inquiry, and it will be entirely our own fault if 
we do not succeed in clearing the matter up. With your permis- 
sion, Mr. Holder, I shall now continue my investigations outside." 

He went alone, at his own request, for he explained that any 
unnecessary footmarks might make his task more difficult. For an 
hour or more he was at work, returning at last with his feet heavy 
with snow and his features as inscrutable as ever. 


** I think that I have seen now all that there is to see, Mr. 
Holder," said he ; '' I can serve you best by returning to my rooms." 

*' But the gems, Mr. Holmes. Where are they ? '* 

*'I cannot tell." 

The banker wrung his hands. " I shall never see them again ! " 
he cried. " And my son ? You give me hopes ?" 

" My opinion is in no way altered." 

** Then for God's sake what was this dark business which was 
acted in my house last night ? " 

" If 3^ou can call upon me at my Baker-street rooms to-morrow 
morning between nine and ten I shall be happy to do what I can to 
make it clearer. I understand that you give me carte blanche to act 
for you, provided only that I get back the gems, and that you place 
no limit on the sum I may draw." 

" I would give my fortune to have them back," 

'* Very good. I shall look into the matter between this and 
then. Good-bye ; it is just possible that I may have to come over 
here again before evening." 

It was obvious to me that my companion's mind was now 
made up about the case, although what his conclusions were was 
more than I could even dimly imagine. Several times during our 
homeward journey I endeavoured to sound him upon the point, but 
he always glided away to some other topic, until at last I gave it 
over in despair. It was not yet three when we found ourselves in 
our room once more. He hurried to his chamber, and was down 
again in a few minutes dressed as a common loafer. With his 
collar turned up, his shiny seedy coat, his red cravat, and his worn 
boots, he was a perfect sample of the class. 

*' I think that this should do," said he, glancing into the glass 
above the fireplace. ''I only wish that you could come with me, 
Watson, but I fear that it won't do. I may be on the trail, in this 
matter, or I may be following a will o' the wisp, but I shall soon 
know which it is. I hope that I may be back in a few hours." 
He cut a slice of beef from the joint upon the sideboard, sand- 
wiched it between two rounds of bread, and, thrusting this rude 
meal into his pocket, he started off upon his expedition. 

I had just finished my tea when he returned, evidently in 
excellent spirits, swinging an old elastic-sided boot in his hand. 
He chucked it down into a corner and helped himself to a cup of tea. 



*' I only looked in as I passed," said he. " I am going right 

'' Where to ? " 
Oh, to the other side of the West-end. It may be some 

time before I get back. Don't 
wait up for me in case I should 
be late." 

*' How are you getting on ? " 
*' Oh, so so. Nothing to com- 
plain of. I have been out to 
Streatham since I saw you last, 
but I did not call at the house. 
It is a very sweet little problem, 
and I would not have missed it 
for a good deal. However, I must 
not sit gossiping here, but must 
get these disreputable clothes off 
and return to my highly respect- 
able self." 

I could see by his manner 
that he had stronger reasons for 
satisfaction than his words alone 
would imply. His eyes twinkled, 
and there was even a touch of 
colour upon his sallow cheeks. 
He hastened upstairs, and a few 
minutes later I heard the slam of 
the hall door, which told me that 
he was off once miore upon his 
congenial hunt. 

I waited until midnight, but 
there was no sign of his return, 
so I retired to my room. It was 
no uncommon thing for him to be away for days and nights on end 
when he was hot upon a scent, so that his lateness caused me no 
surprise. I do not know at what hour he came in, but when I 
came down to breakfast in the morning, there he was with a cup 
of coffee in one hand and the paper in the other, as fresh and 
trim as possible. 



" You will excuse my beginning without you, Watson," said he ; 
" but you remember that our client has rather an early appointment 
this morning." 

*' Why, it is after nine now," I answered. "I should not be 
surprised if that were he. I thought I heard a ring." 

It was, indeed, our friend the financier. I was shocked by the 
change which had come over him, for his face, which was naturally 
of a broad and massive mould, was now pinched and fallen in, 
while his hair seemed to be at least a shade whiter. He entered 
with a weariness and lethargy which was even more painful than 
his violence of the morning before, and he dropped heavily into the 
armchair which I pushed forward for him. 

** I do not know what I have done to be so severely tried," said 
he. '' Only two days ago I was a happy and prosperous man, 
without a care in the world. Now I am left to a lonely and dis- 
honoured age. One sorrow comes close upon the heels of another. 
My niece Mary has deserted me." 

" Deserted you ? " 

** Yes. Her bed this morning had not been slept in, her room 
was empty, and a note lay for me upon the hall table. I had said 
to her last night, in sorrow and not in anger, that if she had 
married my boy all might have been well with him. Perhaps it 
was thoughtless of me to say so. It is to that remark that she 
refers in this note : ' My dearest Uncle, — I feel that I have brought 
trouble upon you, and that if I had acted differently this terrible 
misfortune might never have occurred. I cannot, with this thought 
in my mind, ever again be happy under your roof, and I feel that 
I must leave you for ever. Do not worry about my future, for that 
is provided for ; and, above all, do not search for me, for it will be 
fruitless labour, and an ill service to me. In life or in death, I am 
ever your loving, — Mary.' What could she mean by that note, Mr. 
Holmes ? Do you think it points to suicide ? " 

*' No, no, nothing of the kind. It is perhaps the best possible 
solution. I trust, Mr. Holder, that you are nearing the end of your 
troubles ? " 

" Ha ! You say so ! You have heard something, Mr. Holmes ; 
you have learned something ! Where are the gems ? " 

'' You would not think a thousand pounds apiece an excessive 
sum for them ? " 


" I would pay ten." 

" That would be unnecessary. Three thousand will cover the 
matter. And there is a little reward, I fancy. Have you your 
cheque-book? Here is a pen. Better make it out for four 
thousand pounds." 

With a dazed face the banker made out the required cheque. 
Holmes walked over to his desk, took out a little triangular piece 
of gold with three gems in it, and threw it down upon the table. 

With a shriek of joy our client clutched it up. 

" You have it ! " he gasped. " I am saved ! I am saved ! " 

The reaction of joy was as passionate as his grief had been, and 
he hugged his recovered gems to his bosom. 

"There is one other thing you owe, Mr. Holder," said Sherlock 
Holmes, rather sternly. 

*' Owe ! " He caught up a pen. " Name the sum, and I will 
pay it." 

" No, the debt is not to m.e. You owe a very humble apology to 
that noble lad, your son, who has carried himself in this matter as 
I should be proud to see my own son do, should I ever chance to 
have one." 

•' Then it was not Arthur who took them ? " 

" I told you yesterday, and I repeat to-day, that it was not." 

*' You are sure of it ! Then let us hurry to him at once, to let 
him know that the truth is known." 

" He knows it already. When I had cleared it all up I had an 
interview with him, and, finding that he would not tell me the 
story, I told it to him, on which he had to confess that I was right, 
and to add the very few details which were not yet quite clear to 
me. Your news of this morning, however, may open his lips." 

** For Heaven's sake, tell me, then, what is this extraordinary 
mystery ! " 

" I will do so, and I will show you the steps by which I reached 
it. And let me say to you, first, that which it is hardest for me to 
say and for you to hear. There has been an understanding between 
Sir George Burnwell and your niece Mary. They have now fled 

" My Mary ? Impossible ! " 

*' It is, unfortunately, more than possible; it is certain. Neither 
you nor your son knew the true character of this man when you 


admitted him into your family circle. He is one of the most 
dangerous men in England — a ruined gamhler, an absolutely 
desperate villain ; a man without heart or conscience. Your niece 
knew nothing of such men. When he breathed his vows to her, 
as he had done to a hundred before her, she flattered herself that 
she alone had touched his heart. The devil knows best what he 
said, but at last she became his tool, and was in the habit of seeing 
him nearly every evening." 

" I cannot, and I will not, believe it ! " cried the banker, with 
an ashen face. 

'* I will tell you, then, what occurred in your house last night. 
Your niece, when you had, as she thought, gone to your room, 
slipped down and talked to her lover through the window which 
leads into the stable lane. His footmarks had pressed right through 
the snow, so long had he stood there. She told him of the coronet. 
His wickeM lust for gold kindled at the news, and he bent her to 
his will. I have no doubt that she loved you, but there are women 
in whom the love of a lover extinguishes all other loves, and I 
think that she must have been one. She had hardly listened to 
his instructions when she saw you coming downstairs, on which 
she closed the window^ rapidly, and told you about one of the 
servants' escapade with her wooden-legged lover, which was all 
perfectly true. 

" Your boy, Arthur, went to bed after his interview with you, 
but he slept badly on account of his uneasiness about his club 
debts. In the middle of the night he heard a soft tread pass his 
door, so he rose, and looking out was surprised to see his cousin 
walking very stealthily along the passage, until she disappeared 
into your dressing-room. Petrified with astonishment the lad 
slipped on some clothes, and waited there in the dark to see what 
would come of this strange affair. Presently she emerged from 
the room again, and in the light of the passage lamp your son saw 
that she carried the precious coronet in her hands. She passed 
down the stairs, and he, thrilling with horror, ran along and 
slipped behind the curtain near your door, whence he could see 
what passed in the hall beneath. He saw her stealthily open the 
window, hand out the coronet to some one in the gloom, and then 
closing it once more hurry back to her room, passing quite close to 
where he stood hid behind the curtain. 



" As long as she was on the scene he could not take any action 
without a horrible exposure of the woman whom he loved. But 
the instant that she was gone he realised how crushing a mis- 
fortune this would be for you, and how all-important it was to set 
it right. He rushed down, just as he was, in his bare feet, opened 




the window, sprang out into the snow, and ran down the lane, 
where he could see a dark figure in the moonlight. Sir George 
Burnwell tried to get away, but Arthur caught him, and there was 
a struggle between them, your lad tugging at one side of the 
coronet, and his opponent at the other. In the scuffle, your son 
struck Sir George, and cut him over the eye. Then something 
suddenly snapped, and your son, finding that he had the coronet in 


his hands, rushed back, closed the window, ascended to your room, 
and had just observed that the coronet had been twisted in the 
struggle, and was endeavouring to straighten it, when you appeared 
upon the scene." 

*' Is it possible ? " gasped the banker. 

" You then roused his anger by calling him names at a moment 
when he felt that he had deserved 3^our warmest thanks. He could 
not explain the true state of affairs without betraying one who 
certainly deserved little enough consideration at his hands. He 
took the more chivalrous view, however, and preserved her 

*' And that was why she shrieked and fainted when she saw the 
coronet," cried Mr. Holder. " Oh, my God ! what a blind fool 
I have been. And his asking to be allowed to go out for five 
minutes ! The dear fellow wanted to see if the missing piece 
were at the scene of the struggle. H^ow cruelly I have misjudged 
him ! " 

*' When I arrived at the house," continued Holmes, " I at 
once went very carefully round it to observe if there were any 
traces in the snow which might help me. I knew that none had 
fallen since the evening before, and also that there had been a 
strong frost to preserve impressions. I passed along the trades- 
men's path, but found it all trampled down and indistinguishable. 
Just beyond it, however, at the far side of the kitchen door, a 
woman had stood and talked with a man, whose round impression 
on one side showed that he had a wooden-leg. I could even tell 
that they had been disturbed, for the woman had run back swiftly 
to the door, as was shown by the deep toe and light heel-marks, 
while Wooden-leg had waited a little, and then had gone away. 
I thought at the time that this might be the maid and her sweet- 
heart, of whom you had already spoken to me, and inquiry showed 
it was so. I passed round the garden without seeing anything 
more than random tracks, which I took to be the police ; but when 
I got into the stable lane a very long and complex story was written 
in the snow in front of me. 

*' There was a double line of tracks of a booted man, and a 
second double line which I saw with delight belonged to a man 
with naked feet. I was at once convinced from what you had told 
me that the latter was your son. The first had walked both ways 


but the other had run swiftly, and, as his tread was marked in 
places over the depression of the boot, it was obvious that he had 
passed after the other. I followed them up, and found that they 
led to the hall window, where Boots had worn all the snow away 
while waiting. Then I walked to the other end, which was a 
hundred yards or more down the lane. I saw where Boots had 
faced round, where the snow was cut up as though there had been 
a struggle, and, finall}^, where a few drops of blood had fallen, to 
show me that I was not mistaken. Boots had then run down the 
lane, and another little smudge of blood showed that it was he 
who had been hurt. When he came to the high road at the other 
end, I found that the pavement had been cleared, so there was an 
end to that clue. 

" On entering the house, however, I examined, as you remember, 
the sill and framework of the hall window with my lens, and I 
could at once see that some one had passed out. I could distinguish 
the outline of an instep where the wet foot had been placed in 
coming in. I was then beginning to be able to form an opinion as 
to what had occurred. A man had waited outside the window, 
some one had brought him the gems ; the deed had been overseen 
by your son, he had pursued the thief, had struggled with him, 
they had each tugged at the coronet, their united strength causing 
injuries which neither alone could have effected. He had returned 
with the prize, but had left a fragment in the grasp of his opponent. 
So far I was clear. The question now was, who was the man, and 
who was it brought him the coronet ? 

" It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the 
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the 
truth. Now, I knew that it was not you who had brought it down, 
so there only remained your niece and the maids. But if it were 
the maids, why should your son allow himself to be accused in 
their place ? There could be no possible reason. As he loved his 
cousin, however, there was an excellent explanation why he should 
retain her secret — the more so as the secret was a disgraceful one. 
When I remembered that you had seen her at that window, and 
how she had fainted on seeing the coronet again, my conjecture 
became a certainty. 

" And who could it be who was her confederate ? A lover 
evidently, for who else could outweigh the love and gratitude which 



she must feel to you ? I knew that you went out little, and that 
your circle of friends was a very limited one. But among them 
was Sir George Burnwell. I had heard of him before as being a 
man of evil reputation among women. It must have been he who 
wore those boots, and retained the missing gems. Even though he 
knew that Arthur had discovered him, he might still flatter himself 


that he was safe, for the lad could not say a word without compro- 
mising his own family. 

*' Well, your own good sense will suggest what measures I 
took next. I went in the shape of a loafer to Sir George's house, 
managed to pick up an acquaintance with his valet, learned that 
his master had cut his head the night before, and finall}^ at the 
expense of six shillings, made all sure by buying a pair of his 


cast-off shoes. With these I journeyed down to Streatham, and 
saw that they exactly fitted the tracks." 

*' I saw an ill-dressed vagabond in the lane yesterday evening," 
said Mr. Holder. 

*' Precisely. It was I. I found that I had my man, ?o I came 
home and changed my clothes. It was a delicate part which I had 
to play then, for I saw that a prosecution must be avoided to avert 
scandal, and I knew that so astute a villain would see that our 
hands were tied in the matter. I went and saw him. At first, 
of course, he denied everything. But when I gave him every 
particular that had occurred, he tried to bluster, and took down 
a life-preserver from the wall. I knew my man, however, and 
I clapped a pistol to his head before he could strike. Then he 
became a little more reasonable. I told him that we would give 
him a price for the stones he held — a thousand pounds apiece. 
That brought out the first signs of grief that he had shown. 
' Why, dash it all ! ' said he, ' I've let them go at six hundred for 
the three ! ' I soon managed to get the address of the receiver 
who had them, on promising him that there would be no prosecu- 
tion. Off I set to him, and after much chaffering I got our stones 
at a thousand apiece. Then I looked in upon your son, told him 
that all was right, and eventually got^ to my bed about two o'clock, 
after what I may call a really hard day's work." 

** A day which has saved England from a great public scandal," 
said the banker, rising. " Sir, I cannot find words to thank you, 
but you shall not find me ungrateful for what you have done. Your 
skill has indeed exceeded all that I have ever heard of it. And now 
I must fly to my dear boy to apologise to him for the wrong which 
I have done him. As to what you tell me of poor Mary, it goes to 
my very heart. Not even your skill can inform me where she is 

" I think that we may safely say," returned Holmes, ''that she 
is wherever Sir George Burnwell is. It is equally certain, too, that 
whatever her sins are, they will soon receive a more than sufficient 



the man who loves art for its own sake," remarked 
Sherlock Holmes, tossing aside the advertisement 
sheet of The Daily Telegraphy '* it is frequently in its 
least important and lowliest manifestations that the 
keenest pleasure is to be derived. It is pleasant to 
me to observe, Watson, that you have so far grasped this truth 
that in these little records of our cases which you have been good 
enough to draw up, and, I am bound to say, occasionally to em- 
bellish, you have given prominence not so much to the many causes 
celebres and sensational trials in which I have figured, but rather to 
those incidents which may have been trivial in themselves, but 
which have given room for those faculties of deduction and of logical 
synthesis which I have made my special province." 

"And yet," said I, smiling, " I cannot quite hold myself absolved 
from the charge of sensationalism which has been urged against my 

" You have erred, perhaps," he observed, taking up a glowing 
cinder with the tongs, and lighting with it the long cherrywood pipe 
which was wont to replace his clay when he was in a disputatious 
rather than a meditative mood — '*' you have erred perhaps in at- 
tempting to put colour and life into each of your statements, instead 
of confining yourself to the task of placing upon record that severe 
reasoning from cause to effect which is really the only notable 
feature about the thing." 

" It seems to me that I have done you full justice in the matter," 
I remarked, with some coldness, for I was repelled by the egotism 
which I had more than once observed to be a strong factor in my 
friend's singular character. 

" No, it is not selfishness or conceit," said he, answering, as was 
his wont, my thoughts rather than my words. " If I claim iu.l 

20 ^^5 



justice for my art, it is because it is an impersonal thing — a thing 
beyond myself. Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is 
upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell. 
You have degraded what should have been a course of lectures into 
a series of tales." 

It was a cold morning of the early spring, and we sat after 
breakfast on either side of a cheery fire in the old room in Baker- 
street. A thick fog rolled down between the lines of dun-coloured 
houses, and the opposing windows loomed like dark, shapeless blurs 


through the heavy yellow wreaths. Our gas was lit, and shone on 
the white cloth, and glimmer of china and metal, for the table had 
not been cleared yet. Sherlock Holmes had been silent all the 
morning, dipping continuously into the advertisement columns of a 
succession of papers, until at last, having apparently given up his 
search, he had emerged in no very sweet temper to lecture me upon 
my literary shortcomings. 

" At the same time," he remarked, after a pause, during which 
he had sat puffing at his long pipe and gazing down into the fire, 
" you can hardly be open to a charge of sensationalism, for out of 
these cases which you have been so kind as to interest yourself in, 


a fair proportion do not treat of crime, in its legal sense, at all. 
The small matter in which I endeavoured to help the King of 
Bohemia, the singular experience of Miss Mary Sutherland, the 
problem connected with the man with the twisted lip, and the 
incident of the noble bachelor, were all matters which are outside 
the pale of the law. But in avoiding the sensational, I fear that 
you may have bordered on the trivial." 

" The end may have been so," I answered, '' but the methods 
I hold to have been novel and of interest." 

" Pshaw, my dear fellow, what do the public, the great un- 
observant public, who could hardly tell a weaver by his tooth or a 
compositor by his left thumb, care about the liner shades of analysis 
and deduction ! But, indeed, if you are trivial, I cannot blame you, 
for the days of the great cases are past. Man, or at least criminal 
man, has lost all enterprise and originality. As to my own little 
practice, it seems to be degenerating into an agency for recovering 
lost lead pencils, and giving advice to young ladies from boarding- 
schools. I think that I have touched bottom at last, however. 
This note I had this morning marks my zero point, I fancy. Read 
it ! " He tossed a crumpled letter across to me. 

It was dated from Montague-place upon the preceding evening, 
and ran thus : — 

*' Dear Mr. Holmes, — I am very anxious to consult you as to 
whether I should or should not accept a situation which has been 
offered to me as governess. I shall call at half-past ten to-morrow, 
if I do not inconvenience you. — Yours faithfully, 

" Violet Hunter." 

" Do you know the young lady ? " I asked. 


" It is half-past ten now." 

" Yes, and I have no doubt that is her ring." 

** It may turn out to be of more interest than you think. You 
remember that the affair of the blue carbuncle, which appeared to 
be a mere whim at first, developed into a serious investigation. It 
may be so in this case also." 

"Well, let us hope so! But our doubts will very soon be 
solved, for here, unless I am much mistaken, is the person in 


As he spoke the door opened, and a young lady entered the 
room. She was plainly but neatly dressed, with a bright, quick 
face, freckled like a plover's ^gg^ and with the brisk manner of a 
woman who has had her own way fo make in the world. 

" You will excuse my troubling you, I am sure," said she, as my 
companion rose to greet her; ''but I have had a very strange 
experience, and as I have no parents or relations of any sort from 
whom I could ask advice, I thought that perhaps you would be 
kind enough to tell me what I should do." 

'* Pray take a seat, Miss Hunter. I shall be happy to do 
anything that I can to serve you." 

I could see that Holmes was favourably impressed by the 
manner and speech of his new client. He looked her over in his 
searching fashion, and then composed himself with his lids drooping 
and his finger-tips together to listen to her story. 

" I have been a governess for five years," said she, " in the 
family of Colonel Spence Munro, but two months ago the Colonel 
received an appointment at Halifax, in Nova Scotia, and took his 
children over to America with him, so that I found myself without 
a situation. I advertised, and I answered advertisements, but 
without success. At last the little money which I had saved began 
to run short, and I was at my wits' end as to what I should do. 

" There is a well-known agency for governesses in the West-end 
called Westaway's, and there I used to call about once a week in 
order to see whether anything had turned up which might suit me. 
Westaway was the name of the founder of the business, but it is 
really managed by Miss Stoper. She sits in her own little office, 
and the ladies who are seeking employment wait in an ante-room, 
and are then shown in one by one, when she consults her ledgers, 
and sees whether she has anything which would suit them. 

'' Well, when I called last week I was shown into the little 
office as usual, but I found that Miss Stoper was not alone. A 
prodigiously stout man with a very smiling face, and a great heavy 
chin which rolled down in fold upon fold over his throat, sat at her 
elbow with a pair of glasses on his nose, looking very earnestly at 
the ladies who entered. As I came in he gave quite a jump in his 
chair, and turned quickly to Miss Stoper : 

" * That will do,' said he ; 'I could not ask for anything better. 
Capital! capital!' He seemed quite enthusiastic, and rubbed his 



hands together in the most genial fashion. He was such a com- 
fortable-looking man that it was quite a pleasure to look at him. 

" ' You are looking for a situation, miss ? ' he asked. 

'''Yes, sir.' 

" * As governess ? ' 

'"Yes, sir." 

" ' And what salary do you ask ? ' 

"'I had four pounds a month in my last place with Colonel 
Spence Munro.' 

'* CAPITAL ! " 

" ' Oh, tut, tut ! sweating — rank sweating ! ' he cried, throwing 
his fat hands out into the air like a man who is in a boiling passion. 
' How could any one offer so pitiful a sum to a lady with such 
attractions and accomplishments ? ' 

" ' My accomplishments, sir, may be less than you imagine,' 
said I. 'A little French, a little German, music and drawing ' 

" 'Tut, tut! ' he cried. ' This is all quite beside the question. 
The point is, have you or have you not the bearing and deportment 
of a lady ? There it is in a nutshell. If you have not, you are not 
fitted for the rearing of a child who may some day play a consider- 
able part in the history of the country. But if you have, why, then 


how could any gentleman ask you to condescend to accept anything 
under the three figures ? Your salary with me, madam, would 
commence at a hundred pounds a year.' 

*' You may imagine, Mr. Holmes, that to me, destitute as I was, 
such an offer seemed almost too good to be true. The gentleman, 
however, seeing perhaps the look of incredulity upon my face, 
opened a pocket-book and took out a note. 

" ' It is also my custom,' said he, smiling in the most pleasant 
fashion until his eyes were just two little shining slits, amid the 
white creases of his face, * to advance to my young ladies half their 
salary beforehand, so that they may meet any little expenses of 
their journey and their wardrobe.' 

*' It seemed to me that I had never met so fascinating and so 
thoughtful a man. As I was already in debt to my tradesmen the 
advance was a great convenience, and yet there was something un- 
natural about the whole transaction which made me wish to know a 
little more before I quite committed myself. 

" * May I ask where you live, sir ? ' said I. 

" * Hampshire. Charming rural place. The Copper Beeches, 
five miles on the far side of Winchester. It is the most lovely 
country, my dear young lad}^, and the dearest old country house.' 

'* * And my duties, sir? I should be glad to know what they 
would be.' 

*' 'One child — one dear little romper just six years old. Oh, if 
you could see him killing cockroaches with a slipper ! Smack ! 
smack ! smack ! Three gone before you could wink ! ' He leaned 
back in his chair and laughed his eyes into his head again. 

" I was a little startled at the nature of the child's amusement, 
but the father's laughter made me think that perhaps he was 

'* ' My sole duties, then,' I asked, * are to take charge of a single 
child ? ' 

" * No, no, not the sole, not the sole, my dear young lady,' he 
cried. * Your duty would be, as I am sure your good sense would 
suggest, to obey any little commands which my wife might give, 
provided always that they were such commands as a lady might 
with propriety obey. You see no difficulty, heh? ' 

** * I should be happy to make myself useful.' 

*' ' Quite so. In dress now, for example ! We are faddy people, 


you know — faddy, but kind-hearted. If you were asked to wear any 
dress which we might give you, you would not object to our little 
whim. Heh ? ' 

*' ' No,' said I, considerably astonished at his words. 

** * Or to sit here, or sit there, that would not be offensive to 
you ? ' 

"'Oh, no.' 

** * Or to cut your hair quite short before you come to us.' 

'* I could hardly believe my ears. As you may observe, Mr. 
Holmes, my hair is somewhat luxuriant, and of a rather peculiar 
tint of chestnut. It has been considered artistic. I could not 
dream of sacrificing it in this off-hand fashion. 

*' * I am afraid that that is quite impossible,' said I. He had 
been watching me eagerly out of his small eyes, and I could see a 
shadow pass over his face as I spoke. 

** * I am afraid that it is quite essential,' said he. ' It is a little 
fancy of my wife's, and ladies' fancies, you know, madam, ladies' 
fancies must be consulted. And so you won't cut your hair.? ' 

*' * No, sir, I really could not,' I answered firmly. 

*' * Ah, very well; then that quite settles the matter. It is a 
pity, because in other respects you would really have done very 
nicely. In that case. Miss Stoper, I had best inspect a few more of 
your young ladies.' 

*' The manageress had sat all this while busy with her papers 
without a word to either of us, but she glanced at me now with so 
much annoyance upon her face that I could not help suspecting 
that she had lost a handsome commission through my refusal. 

" * Do you desire your name to be kept upon the books ? ' she 

" ' If you please, Miss Stoper.' 

"'Well, really, it seems rather useless, since you refuse the 
m.ost excellent offers in this fashion,' said she sharply. ' You can 
hardly expect us to exert ourselves to find another such opening for 
you. Good-day to you, Miss Hunter.' She struck a gong upon 
the table, and I was shown out by the page. 

" Well, Mr. Holmes, when I got back to my lodgings and found 
little enough in the cupboard, and two or three bills upon the table, 
I began to ask myself whether I had not done a very foolish thing. 
After all, if these people had strange fads, and expected obedience 


on the most extraordinaiy matters, they were at least ready to pay 
for their eccentricity. Very few governesses in England are getting 
a hundred a year. Besides, what use was my hair to me ? Many 
people are improved hy wearing it short, and perhaps I should be 
among the number. Next day I was inclined to think that I had 
made a mistake, and by the day after I was sure of it. I had 
almost overcome my pride, so far as to go back to the agency and 
inquire whether the place was still open, when I received this letter 
from the gentleman himself. I have it here, and I will read it to 

you :— 

" * The Copper Beeches, near Winchester. 

" ' Dear Miss Hunter, — Miss Stoper has very kindly given me 
your address, and I write from here to ask you whether you have 
reconsidered your decision. My wife is very anxious that you 
should come, for she has been much attracted by my description of 
you. We are willing to give thirty pounds a quarter, or ;f 120 a 
year, so as to recompense you for any little inconvenience which 
our fads may cause you. They are not very exacting after all. 
My wife is fond of a particular shade of electric blue, and would 
like you to wear such a dress indoors in the morning. You need 
not, however, go to the expense of purchasing one, as we have one 
belonging to my dear daughter Alice (now in Philadelphia) which 
would, I should think, fit you very well. Then, as to sitting here 
or there, or amusing yourself in any manner indicated, that need 
cause you no inconvenience. As regards your hair, it is no doubt a 
pity, especially as I could not help remarking its beauty during our 
short interview, but I am afraid that I must remain firm upon this 
point, and I only hope that the increased salary may recompense 
you for the loss. Your duties, as far as the child is concerned, are 
very light. Now do try to come, and I shall meet you with the 
dogcart at Winchester. Let me know your train. — Yours faithfully, 

*' Jephro Rucastle.' 

*'That is the letter which I have just received, Mr. Holmes, 
and my mind is made up that I will accept it. I thought, however, 
that before taking the final step, I should like to submit the whole 
matter to your consideration." 

" Well, Miss Hunter, if your mind is made up, that settles the 
question," said Holmes, smiling. 


" But you would not advise me to refuse ? " 

'' I confess that it is not the situation which I should like to 
see a sister of mine apply for." 

*' What is the meaning of it all, Mr. Holmes ? " 
"Ah, I have no data. I cannot tell. Perhaps you have 
yourself formed some opinion ? " 

** Well, there seems to me to be only one possible solution. Mr. 
Rucastle seemed to be a very kind, good-natured man. Is it not 
possible that his wife is a lunatic, that he desires to keep the 
matter quiet for fear she should be taken to an asylum, and that 
he humours her fancies in every way in order to prevent an 

*' That is a possible solution — in fact, as matters stand, it is 
the most probable one. But in any case it does not seem to be a 
nice household for a young lady." 

" But the money, Mr. Holmes, the money ! " 
'' Well, yes, of course the pay is good — too good. That is 
what makes me uneasy. Why should they give you £\2.o a year, 
when they could have their pick for £^0 ? There must be some 
strong reason behind." 

" I thought that if I told you the circumstances you would 
understand afterwards if I wanted your help. I should feel so 
much stronger if I felt that you were at the back of me." 

" Oh, you may carry that feeling away with you. I assure you 
that your little problem promises to be the most interesting which 
has come my way for some months. There is something distinctly 
novel about some of the features. If you should find yourself in 

doubt or in danger " 

** Danger ! What danger do you foresee ? " 
Holmes shook his head gravely. " It would cease to be a 
danger if we could define it," said he. " But at any time, day or 
night, a telegram would bring me down to your help." 

" That is enough." She rose briskly from her chair with the 
anxiety all swept from her face. " I shall go down to Hampshire 
quite easy in my mind now. I shall write to Mr. Rucastle at once, 
sacrifice my poor hair to-night, and start for Winchester to- 
morrow." With a few grateful words to Holmes she bade us 
both good-night and bustled off upon her way. 

" At least," said I, as we heard her quick, firm step descending 



the stairs, ** she seems to be a young lady who is very well able 
to take care of herself." 

" And she would need to be," said Holmes, gravely ; *' I am 
much mistaken if we do not hear from her before many days are 

It was not very long before my friend's prediction was fulfilled. 
A fortnight went by, during which I frequently found my thoughts 
turning in her direction, and wondering what strange side-alley 
of human experience this lonely woman had strayed into. The 


unusual salary, the curious conditions, the light duties, all pointed 
to something abnormal, though whether a fad or a plot, or whether 
the man were a philanthropist or a villain, it was quite beyond my 
powers to determine. As to Holmes, I observed that he sat 
frequently for half an hour on end, with knitted brows and an 
abstracted air, but he swept the matter away wath a wave of 
his hand when I mentioned it. ** Data ! data ! data ! " he cried 
impatiently. *' I can't make bricks without clay." And yet he 
would always wind up by muttering that no sister of his should 
ever have accepted such a situation. 


The telegram which we eventually received came late one 
night, just as I was thinking of turning in, and Holmes was 
settling down to one of those all-night researches which he 
frequently indulged in, when I would leave him stooping over 
a retort and a test-tube at night, and find him in the same 
position when I came down to breakfast in the morning. He 
opened the yellow envelope, and then, glancing at the message, 
threw it across to me, 

** Just look up the trains in Bradshaw," said he, and turned back 
to his chemical studies. 

The summons was a brief and urgent one. 

** Please be at the ' Black Swan ' Hotel at Winchester at 
midday to-morrow," it said. '' Do come ! I am at my wit's end. 

" Hunter." 

*' Will you come with me ? " asked Holmes, glancing up. 

*' I should wish to." 

" Just look it up, then." 

** There is a train at half-past nine," said I, glancing over my 
Bradshaw. " It is due at Winchester at 11.30." 

** That will do very nicely. Then perhaps I had better postpone 
my analysis of the acetones, as we may need to be at our best in 
the morning." 

By eleven o'clock the next day we were well upon our way to 
the old English capital. Holmes had been buried in the morning 
papers all the way down, but after we had passed the Hampshire 
border he threw them down, and began to admire the scenery. It 
was an ideal spring day, a light blue sky, flecked with litile fleecy 
white clouds drifting across from w^est to east. The sun w^as 
shining very brightly, and yet there was an exhilarating nip in 
the air, which set an edge to a man's energy. All over the 
countryside, away to the rolling hills around Aldershot, the little 
red and grey roofs of the farm-steadings peeped out from amidst 
the light green of the new foliage. 

*' Are they not fresh and beautiful ? " I cried, with all the 
enthusiasm of a man fresh from the fogs of Baker-street. 

But Holmes shook his head gravely. 

*' Do you know, Watson," said he, " that it is one of the curses 
of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything 


with reference to my own special subject. You look at these 
scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look 
at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling 
of their isolation, and of the impunity with which crime may be 
committed there." 

*' Good heavens ! " I cried. ''Who would associate crime with 
these dear old homesteads ? " 

** They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, 
Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest 
alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than 
does the smiling and beautiful countryside." 

** You horrify me ! " 

*' But the reason is very obvious. The pressure of public 
opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. 
There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or 
the thud of a drunkard's blow, does not beget sympathy and 
indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery 
of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it 
going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. 
But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for 
the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. 
Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which 
may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser. 
Had this lady who appeals to us for help gone to live in 
Winchester, I should never have had a fear for her. It is the 
five miles of country which makes the danger. Still, it is clear 
that she is not personally threatened." 

" No. If she can come to Winchester to meet us she can get 

" Quite so. She has her freedom." 

*' What can be the matter, then ? Can you suggest no ex- 
planation ? " 

" I have devised seven separate explanations, each of which 
would cover the facts as far as we know them. But which of 
these is correct can only be determined by the fresh information 
which we shall no doubt find waiting for us. Well, there is the 
tower of the Cathedial, and we shall soon learn all that Miss 
Hunter has to tell." 

The " Black Swan " is an inn of repute in the High-street, at 



no distance from the station, and there we found the young lady 
waiting for us. She had engaged a sitting-room, and our lunch 
awaited us upon the table. 

" I am so delighted that you have come," she said, earnestly. 
" It is so kind of you both ; but indeed I do not know what I 
should do. Your advice will be altogether invaluable to me." 


" Pray tell us what has happened to you." 

" I will do so, and I must be quick, for I have promised Mr. 
Rucastle to be back before three. I got his leave to come into 
town this morning, though he little knew for what purpose." 

" Let us have everything in its due order." Holmes thrust his 
long thin legs out towards the fire, and composed himself to listen. 

" In the first place, I may say that I have met, on the whole, 
with no actual ill-treatment from Mr. and Mrs. Rucastle. It is 


only fair to them to say that. But I cannot understand them, and 
I am not easy in my mind about them." 

" What can you not understand ? " 

*' Their reasons for their conduct. But you shall have it all 
just as it occurred. When I came down Mr. Rucastle met me 
here, and drove me in his dogcart to Copper Beeches. It is, as 
he said, beautifully situated, but it is not beautiful in itself, for 
it is a large square block of a house, whitewashed, but all stained 
and streaked with damp and bad weather. There are grounds 
round it, woods on three sides, and on the fourth a field which 
slopes down to the Southampton high road, which curves past 
about a hundred yards from the front door. This ground in front 
belongs to the house, 'but the woods all round are part of Lord 
Southerton's preserves. A clump of copper beeches immediately 
in front of the hall door has given its name to the place. 

" I was driven over by my employer, who was as amiable as 
ever, and was introduced by him that evening to his wife and the 
child. There was no truth, Mr. Holmes, in the conjecture which 
seemed to us to be probable in your rooms at Baker-street. Mrs. 
Rucastle is not mad. I found her to be a silent, pale-faced woman, 
much younger than her husband, not more than thirty, I should 
think, while he Cc.n hardly be less than forty-five. From their 
conversation I have gathered that they have been married about 
seven years, that he was a widower, and that his only child by 
ihe first wife was the daughter who has gone to Philadelphia. Mr. 
Rucastle told me in private that the reason why she had left them 
was that she had an unreasoning aversion to her stepmother. As 
the daughter could not have been less than twenty, I can quite 
ima^-ine that her position must have been uncomfortable with her 
father's young wife. 

" Mrs. Rucastle seemed to me to be colourless in mind as well 
as in feature. She impressed me neither favourably nor the 
reverse. She was a nonentity. It was easy to see that she 
was passionately devoted both to her husband and to her little 
son. Her light grey eyes wandered continually from one to the 
other, noting every little want and forestalling it if possible. He 
was kind to her also in his bluff boisterous fashion, and on the 
whole they seemed to be a happy couple. And yet she had some 
secret sorrow, this woman. She would often be lost in deep 


thought, with the saddest look upon her face. More than once 
I have surprised her in tears. I have thought sometimes that it 
was the disposition of her child which weighed upon her mind, . 
for I have never met so utterly spoilt and so ill-natured a little 
creature. He is small for his age, with a head which is quite 
disproportionately large. His whole life appears to be spent in 
an alternation between savage fits of passion and gloomy intervals 
of sulking. Giving pain to any creature weaker than himself seems 
to be his one idea of amusement, and he shows quite remarkable 
talent in planning the capture of mice, little birds, and insects. 
But I would rather not talk about the creature, Mr. Holmes, and, 
indeed, he has little to do with my story." 

** I am glad of all details," remarked my friend, " whether they 
seem to you to be relevant or not." 

** I shall try not to miss anything of importance. The one 
unpleasant thing about the house, which struck me at once, was 
the appearance and conduct of the servants. There are only two, 
a man and his wife. Toller, for that's his name, is a rough, uncouth 
man, with grizzled hair and whiskers, and a perpetual smell of 
drink. Twice since I have been with them he has been quite 
drunk, and yet Mr. Rucastle seemed to take no notice of it. His 
wife is a very tall and strong woman with a sour face, as silent 
as Mrs. Rucastle, and much less amiable. They are a most 
unpleasant couple, but fortunately I spend most of my time in 
the nursery and my own room, which are next to each other in 
one corner of the building. 

" For two days after my arrival at the Copper Beeches my life 
was very quiet ; on the third, Mrs. Rucastle came down just after 
breakfast and whispered something to her husband. 

*' ' Oh yes,' said he, turning to me ; ' we are very much obliged 
to you. Miss Hunter, for falling in with our whims so far as to 
cut your hair. I assure you that it has not detracted in the tiniest 
iota from your appearance. We shall now see how the electric 
blue dress will become you. You will find it laid out upon the 
bed in your room, and if you would be so good as to put it on 
we should both be extremely obliged.' 

"The dress which I found waiting for me was of a peculiar 
shade of blue. It was of excellent material, a sort of beige, but it 
bore unmistakable signs of having been worn before. It could not 



have been a better fit if I had been measured for it. Both Mr. and 
Mrs. Rucastle expressed a delight at the look of it which seemed 
quite exaggerated in its vehemence. They were waiting for me in 
the drawing-room, which is a very large room, stretching along the 
entire front of the house, with three long windows reaching down 
to the floor. A chair had been placed close to the central window, 
with its back turned towards it. In this I was aske'd to sit, and 
then Mr. Rucastle, walking up and down on the other side of the 
room, began to tell me a series of the funniest stories that I have 
ever listened to. You cannot imagine how comical he was, and I 
laughed until I was quite weary. Mrs. Rucastle, however, who 
has evidently no sense of humour, never so much as smiled, but 
sat with her hands in her lap, and a sad, anxious look upon her 
face. After an hour or so, Mr. Rucastle suddenly remarked that 
it was time to com- 
mence the duties of f: 
the day, and that I 
might change my 
dress, and go to little 
Edward in the nur- 

** Two days later 
this same performance 
was gone through 
under exactly similar 
circumstances. Again 
I changed my dress, 
again I sat in the 
window, and again I 
laughed very heartily 
at the funny stories 
of which my employer 
had an immense rc- 
pertoire, and which 
he told inimitably. 
Then he handed me 
a yellow - backed 

novel, and, moving "i read for about ten minutes 

my chair a little sideways, that my own shadow might not fall 


upon the page, he begged me to read aloud to him. I read for 
about ten minutes, beginning in the heart of a chapter, and then 
suddenly, in the middle of a sentence, he ordered me to cease and to 
change my dress. 

" You can easily imagine, Mr. Holmes, how curious I became 
as to what the meaning of this extraordinary performance could 
possibly be. The}^ were always very careful, I observed, to turn my 
face away from the window, so that I became consumed with the 
desire to see what was going on behind my back. At first it seemed 
to be impossible, but I soon devised a means. My hand mirror 
had been broken, so a happy thought seized me, and I concealed a 
piece of the glass in my handkerchief. On the next occasion, in the 
midst of my laughter, I put my handkerchief up to my eyes, and 
was able with a little management to see all that there was behind 
me. I confess that I was disappointed. There was nothing. 

" At least, that was my first impression. At the second glance, 
however, I perceived that there was a man standing in the South- 
ampton Road, a small bearded man in a grey suit, who seemed to 
be looking in my direction. The road is an important highway, and 
there are usually people there. This man, however, was leaning 
against the railings which bordered our field, and was looking 
earnestly up. I lowered my handkerchief, and glanced at Mrs. 
Rucastle to find her eyes fixed upon me with a most searching gaze. 
She said nothing, but I am convinced that she had divined that 
I had a mirror in my hand, and had seen what was behind me. 
She rose at once. 

''*Jephro,' said she, 'there is an impertinent fellow upon the 
road there who stares up at Miss Hunter.' 

" ' No friend of yours. Miss Hunter? ' he asked. 

*' * No ; I know no one in these parts.' 

*' ' Dear me ! How very impertinent ! Kindly turn round, and 
motion to him to go away ! ' 

** ' Surely it would be better to take no notice.' 

** * No, no, we should have him loitering here always. Kindly 
turn round, and wave him away like that.' 

" I did as I was told, and at the same instant Mrs. Rucastle 
drew down the blind. That was a week ago, and from that time I 
have not sat again in the window, nor have I worn the blue dress, 
nor seen the man in the road." 




" Pray continue," said Holmes. *' Your narrative promises to be 
a most interesting one." 

" You will find it rather disconnected, I fear, and there may 
prove to be little relation between the different incidents of which I 
speak. On the very first day that I vs^as at Copper Beeches, Mr. 
Rucastle took me to a small outhouse which stands near the kitchen 
door. As we approached it I heard the sharp rattling of a chain, 
and the sound as of a large animal moving about. 

** * Look in here ! ' said Mr. Rucastle, showing me a slit between 
two planks. * Is he not a beauty ? ' 

*' I looked through, and was conscious of two glowing eyes, and 
of a vague figure huddled up in the darkness. 

*' ' Don't be frightened,' said my employer, laughing at the start 
which I had given. ' It's only Carlo, my mastiff. I call him mine, 
but really old Toller, my groom, is the only man who can do any- 
thing with him. We feed him once a day, and not too much then, 
so that he is always as keen as mustard. Toller lets him loose every 
night, and God help the trespasser whom he lays his fangs upon. 
For goodness' sake don't you ever on any pretext set your foot over 
the threshold at night, for it is as much as your life is worth.' 

" The warning was no idle one, for two nights later I happened 
to look out of my bedroom window about two o'clock in the morning. 
It was a beautiful moonlight night, and the lawn in front of the 
house was silvered over and almost as bright as day. I was 
standing, wrapt in the peaceful beauty of the scene, when I was 
aware that something was moving under the shadow of the copper 
beeches. As it emerged into the moonshine I saw what it was. It 
was a giant dog, as large as a calf, tawny tinted, with hanging 
jowl, black muzzle, and huge projecting bones. It walked slowly 
across the lawn and vanished into the shadow upon the other side. 
That dreadful silent sentinel sent a chill to my heart which I do 
not think that any burglar could have done. 

" And now I have a very strange experience to tell you. I had, 
as you know, cut off my hair in London, and I had placed it in a 
great coil at the bottom of my trunk. One evening, after the child 
was in bed, I began to amuse myself by examining the furniture of 
my room, and by rearranging my own little things. There was an 
old chest of drawers in the room, the two upper ones empty and 
open, the lower one locked. I had filled the two first with my linen, 



and, as I had still much to pack away, I was naturally annoyed at 
not having the use of the third drawer. It struck me that it might 
have been fastened by a mere oversight, so I took out my bunch of 
keys and tried to open it. The very first key fitted to perfection, 
and I drew the drawer open. There was only one thing in it, but 
I am sure that you would never guess what it was. It was my 
coil of hair. 

'•' I took it up and examined it. It was of the same peculiar 
tint, and the same thickness. But then the impossibility of the 


thing obtruded itself upon me. How could my hair have been 
locked in the drawer? With trembling hands I undid my trunk, 
turned out the contents, and drew from the bottom my own hair. 
I laid the two tresses together, and I assure you they were identical. 
Was it not extraordinary? Puzzle as I w^ould, I could make 
nothing at all of what it meant. I returned the strange hair to the 
drawer, and I said nothing of the matter to the Rucastles, as I felt 


that I had put myself in the wrong by opening a drawer which they 
had locked. 

*' I am naturally observant, as you may have remarked, Mr. 
Holmes, and 1 soon had a pretty good plan of the whole house in 
my head. There was one wing, however, which appeared not to be 
inhabited at all. A door which faced that which led into the 
quarters of the Tollers opened into this suite, but it was invariably 
locked. One day, however, as I ascended the stair, I met Mr. 
Rucastle coming out through this door, his keys in his hand, and a 
look on his face which made him a very different person to the 
round jovial man to whom I was accustomed. His cheeks were 
red, his brow was all crinkled with anger, and the veins stood 
out at his temples with passion. He locked the door, and hurried 
past me without a word or a look. 

*' This aroused my curiosity ; so when I went out for a walk in 
the grounds with my charge, I strolled round to the side from which 
I could see the windows of this part of the house. There were four 
of them in a row, three of which were simply dirty, while the fourth 
was shuttered up. They were evidently all deserted. As I strolled 
up and down, glancing at them occasionally, Mr. Rucastle came out 
to me, looking as merry and jovial as ever. 

" 'Ah 1 ' said he, *you must not think me rude if I passed you 
without a word, my dear young lady. I was pre-occupied with 
business matters.' 

** I assured him that I was not offended. * By the way,' said I, 
* you seem to have quite a suite of spare rooms up there, and one of 
them has the shutters up.' 

*' He looked surprised, and, as it seemed to me, a little startled 
at my remark. 

*' * Photography is one of my hobbies,' said he. * I have made 
my dark room up there. But, dear me ! what an observant young 
lady we have come upon. Who would have believed it ? Who 
would have ever believed it ? ' He spoke in a jesting tone, but there 
was no jest in his eyes as he looked at me. I read suspicion there, 
and annoyance, but no jest. 

" Well, Mr. Holmes, from the moment that I understood that 
there was something about that suite of rooms which I was not to 
know, I was all on fire to go over them. It was not mere curiosity, 
though I have my share of that. It was more a feeling of duty — a 


feeling that some good might come from my penetrating to this 
place. They talk of woman's instinct ; perhaps it was woman's 
instinct which gave me that feeling. Atany rate, it was there; and I 
was keenly on the look-out for any chance to pass the forbidden door. 

*' It was only yesterday that the chance came. I may tell you 
that, besides Mr. Racastle, both Toller and his wife find something 
to do in these deserted rooms, and I once saw him carrying a large 
black linen bag with him through the door. Recently he has been 
drinking hard, and yesterday evening he was very drunk ; and, when 
I came upstairs, there was the key in the door. I have no doubt at 
all that he had left it there. Mr. and Mrs. Rucastle were both 
downstairs, and the child was with them, so that I had an admirable 
opportunity. I turned the key gently in the lock, opened the door, 
and slipped through. 

** There was a little passage in front of me, unpapered and 
uncarpeted, which turned at a right angle at the further end. 
Round this corner w^ere three doors in a line, the first and third of 
which were open. They each led into an empty room, dusty and 
cheerless, with two windows in the one, and one in the other, so 
thick with dirt that the evening light glimmered dimly through 
them. The centre door was closed, and across the outside of it had 
been fastened one of the broad bars of an iron bed, padlocked at one 
end to a ring in the wall, and fastened at the other with stout cord. 
The door itself was locked as well, and the key was not there. 
This barricaded door corresponded clearly with the shuttered window 
outside, and yet I could see by the glimmer from beneath it that the 
room was not in darkness. Evidently there was a skylight which 
let in light from above. As I stood in the passage gazing at this 
sinister door, and wondering what secret it might veil, I suddenly 
heard the sound of steps within the room, and saw a shadow pass 
backwards and forwards against the little slit of dim light which 
shone out from under the door. A mad, unreasoning terror rose up 
in me at the sight, Mr. Holmes. My overstrung nerves failed me 
suddenly, and I turned and ran — ran as though some dreadful hand 
were behind me, clutching at the skirt of my dress. I rushed down 
the passage, through the door, and straight into the arms of Mr. 
Rucastle, who was waiting outside. 

" * So ' said he, smiling, * it was you, then. I thought it must 
be when I saw the door open.' 



" ' Oh, I am so frightened ! ' I panted. 

** ' My dear young lady ! my dear young lady ! * — j'ou cannot 
think how caressing and soothing his manner was — ' and what has 
frightened you, my dear young lady ? ' 

" But his voice was just a little too coaxing. He overdid it. I 
was keenly on my guard against him. 

" ' I wa§ foolish enough to go into the empty wing,' I answered. 

* But it is so lonely 
and eerie in this dim 
light that I was 
frightened and ran 
out again. Oh, it is 
so dreadfully still in 
there ! ' 

*''Only that?' 
said he, looking at 
me keenly. 

'''Why, what do 

you think ? ' I asked. 

" ' Why do you 

think that I lock this 

door ? ' 

" ' I am sure that 
I do not know.' 

'"It is to keep 
people out who have 
no business there. 
Do you see ? ' He 
was still smiling in 
the most amiable 

" ' I am sure if I 

"'on! I AM so frightened!' i panted." had known 

" ' Well, then, you know now. And if you ever put your foot over 
that threshold again—' here in an instant the smile hardened into a 
grin of rage, and he glared down at me with the face of a demon, 
' I'll throw you to the mastiff.' 

" I was so terrified that I do not know what I did. I suppose 
that I must have rushed past him into my room. I remember 


nothing until I found myself lying on my bed trembling all over. 
Then I thought of you. Mr. Holmes. I could not live there longer 
without some advice. I was frightened of the house, of the man, of 
the woman, of the servants, even of the child. They were all 
horrible to me. If I could only bring you down all would be well. 
Of course I might have fled from the house, but my curiosity was 
almost as strong as my fears. My mind was soon -made up. I 
would send you a wire. I put on my hat and cloak, went down to 
the office, which is about half a mile from the house, and then re- 
turned, feeling very much easier. A horrible doubt came into my' 
mind as I approached the door lest the dog might be loose, but I 
remembered that Toller had drunk himself into a state of insen- 
sibility that evening, and I knew that he was the only one in the 
household who had any influence with the savage creature, or who 
would venture to set him free. I slipped in in safety, and lay awake 
half the night in my joy at the thought of seeing you. I had no 
difficulty in getting leave to come into Winchester this morning, 
but I must be back before three o'clock, for Mr. and Mrs. Rucastle 
are going on a visit, and will be away all the evening, so that I must 
look after the child. Now I have told you all my adventures, Mr. 
Holmes, and I should be very glad if you could tell me what it all 
means, and, above all, what I should do." 

Holmes and I had listened spellbound to this extraordinary 
story. My friend rose now, and paced up and down the room, his 
hands in his pockets, and an expression of the most profound gravity 
upon his face. 

" Is Toller still drunk ? " he asked. 

*'Yes. I heard his wife tell Mrs. Rucastle that she could do 
nothing with him." 

''That is well. And the Rucastles go out to-night?" 

" Yes." 

" Is there a cellar with a good strong lock ? " 

'* Yes, the wine cellar." 

'' You seem to me to have acted all through this matter like a 
brave and sensible girl. Miss Hunter. Do you think that you 
could perform one more feat ? I should not ask it of you if I did 
not think you a quite exceptional woman." 

" I will try. What is it ? " 

" We shall be at the Copper Beeches by seven o'clock, my 


friend and I. The Rucastles will be gone by that time, and Toller 
will, we hope, be incapable. There only remains Mrs. Toller, who 
might give the alarm. If you could send her into the cellar on 
some errand, and then turn the key upon her, you would facilitate 
matters immensely." 

"I will do it." 

" Excellent ! We shall then look thoroughly into the affair. Of 
course there is only one feasible explanation. You have been 
brought there to personate some one, and the real person is im- 
prisoned in this chamber. That is obvious. As to who this 
prisoner is, I have no doubt that it is the daughter, Miss Alice 
Rucastle, if I remember right, who was said to have gone to 
America. You were chosen, doubtless, as resembling her in 
height, figure, and the colour of your hair. Hers had been cut off, 
very possibly in some illness through which she has passed, and so, 
of course, yours had to be sacrificed also. By a curious chance 
you came upon her tresses. The man in the road was, undoubtedly, 
some friend of hers — possibly her fiance — and no doubt as you wore 
the girl's dress, and were so like her, he was convinced from your 
laughter, whenever he saw you, and afterwards from your gesture, 
that Miss Rucastle was perfectly happy, and that she no longer 
desired his attentions. The dog is let loose at night to prevent him 
from endeavouring to communicate with her. So much is fairly clear. 
The most serious point in the case is the disposition of the child." 

** What on earth has that to do with it ? " I ejaculated. 

" My dear Watson, you as a medical man are continually 
gaining light as to the tendencies of a child by the study of the 
parents. Don't you see that the converse is equally valid. I have 
frequently gained my first real insight into the character of parents 
by studying their children. This child's disposition is abnormally 
cruel, merely for cruelty's sake, and whether he derives this from 
his smiling father, as I should suspect, or from his mother, it bodes 
evil for the poor girl who is in their power." 

" I am sure that you are right, Mr. Holmes," cried our client. 
" A thousand things come back to me which make me certain that 
you have hit it. Oh, let us lose not an instant in bringing help to 
this poor creature." 

**' We must be circumspect, for we are dealing with a very 
cunning man. We can do nothing until seveq o'clock. At ths^t 


hour we shall be with you, and it will not be long before we solve 
the mysteiy." 

We were as good as our word, for it was just seven when we 
reached the Copper Beeches, having put up our trap at a wa^'side 
public-house. The group of trees, with their dark leaves shining 
like burnished metal in the light of the setting sun, were sufficient 
to mark the house even had Miss Hunter not been standing smiling 
on the doorstep. 

" Have you managed it ? " asked Holmes. 

A loud thudding noise came from somewhere downstairs. ''That 
is Mrs. Toller in the cellar," said she. *' Her husband lies snoring 
on the kitchen rug. Here are his keys, which are the duplicates of 
Mr. Rucastle's." 

** You have done well indeed! " cried Holmes, with enthusiasm. 
" Now lead the way, and we shall soon see the end of this black 

We passed up the stair, unlocked the door, followed on down a 
passage, and found ourselves in front of the barricade which Miss 
Hunter had described. Holmes cut the cord and removed the 
transverse bar. Then he tried the various keys in the lock, but 
without success. No sound came from within, and at the silence 
Holmes' face clouded over. 

" I trust that we are not too late," said he. *' I think. Miss 
Hunter, that we had better go in without you. Now, Watson, 
put your shoulder to it, and we shall see wbetlicr we cannot make 
our way in." 

" It was an old rickety door, and gave at once before our united 
strength. Together we rushed into the room. It was empty. 
There was no furniture save a little pallet bed, a small table, and 
a basketful of linen. The skylight above was open, and the prisoner 

"There has been some villainy here," said Holmes; ''this 
beauty has guessed Miss Hunter's intentions, and has carried his 
victim off." 

" But how ? " 

"Through the skylight. We shall soon see how he managed 
it." He swung himself up on to the roof. " Ah, yes," he cried, 
" here's the end of a long light ladder against the eaves. That is 
how he did it," 



" But it is impossible," said Miss Hunter, *' the ladder was not 
there when the Rucastles went away." 

'* He has come back and done it. I tell you that he is a clover 
and dangerous man. I should not be very much surprised if this 
were he whose step I hear now upon the stair. I think, Watson, 
that it would be as well for you to have your pistol ready." 

The words were hardly out of his mouth before a man appeared 
at the door of the room, a very fat and burly man, with a heavy 

•''YOU villain!' said he. ' whePvE's your daughter?'" 

stick in his hand. Miss Hunter screamed and shrunk against the 

wall at the sight of him, but Sherlock Holmes sprang forward and 

confronted him. 

** You villain ! " said he, '* where's your daughter ? " 

The fat man cast his eyes round, and then up at the open 


*' It is for me to ask you that," he shrieked, *'you thieves! 

Spies and thieves ! I have caught you, have I ? You are in my 

power. I'll serve you ! " He turned and clattered down the stairs? 

as hard as he could go. 



" He's gone for the dog! " cried Miss Hunter. 

'' I have my revolver," said I. 

•' Better close the front door," cried Holmes, and we all rushed 
down the stairs together. We had hardly reached the hall when 
we heard the baying of a hound, and then a scream of agony, 
with a horrible worrying sound which it was dreadful to listen to. 
An elderly man with a red face and shaking limbs came staggering 
out at a side door. 

** My God ! " he cried. '' Some one has loosed the dog. It's 
not been fed for two days. Quick, quick, or it'll be too late ! " 


Holmes and I rushed out, and round the angle of the house, 
with Toller hurrying behind us. There was the huge famished 
brute, its black muzzle buried in Rucastle's throat, while he writhed 
and screamed upon the ground. Running up, I blew its brains out, 
and it fell over with its keen white teeth still meeting in the great 
creases of his neck. With much labour we separated them, and 
carried him, living but horribly mangled, into the house. We laid 
him upon the drawing-room sofa, and having despatched the sobered 
Toller to bear the news to his wife, I did what I could to relieve 
his pain. We were all assembled round him when the door opened, 
and a tall, gaunt woman entered the room. 

" Mrs. Toller ! " cried Miss Hunter, 


" Yes, miss. Mr. Rucastle let me out when he came back before 
he went up to you. Ah, miss, it is a pity you didn't let me know 
what you were planning, for I would have told you that your pains 
were wasted." 

" Ha ! " said Holmes, lookingly keenly at her. " It is clear that 
Mrs. Toller knows more about this matter than any one else." 

" Yes, sir, I do, and I am ready enough to tell what I know." 

''Then, pray sit down, and let us hear it, for there are several 
points on which I must confess that I am still in the dark." 

"I will soon make it clear to you," said she; ''and I'd have 
done so before now if I could ha' got out from the cellar. If there's 
police-court business over this, you'll remember that I was the one 
that stood your friend, and that I was Miss Alice's friend too. 

" She was never happy at home, Miss Alice wasn't, from the 
time that her father married again. She was slighted like, and 
had no say in anything ; but it never really became bad for her 
until after she met Mr. Fowler at a friend's house. As well as I 
could learn. Miss Alice had rights of her own by will, but she was 
so quiet and patient, she was, that she never said a word about 
them, but just left everything in Mr. Rucastle's hands. He knew 
he was safe with her ; but when there was a chance of a husband 
coming forward, who would ask for all that the law would give 
him, then her father thought it time to put a stop on it. He wanted 
her to sign a paper so that whether she married or not, he could 
use her money. When she wouldn't do it, he kept on worrying her 
until she got brain fever, and for six weeks was at death's door. 
Then she got better at last, all worn to a shadow, and with her 
beautiful hair cut off; but that didn't make no change in her young 
man, and he stuck to her as true as man could be." 

" Ah," said Holmes, " I think that what you have been good 
enough to tell us makes the matter fairly clear, and that I can 
deduce all that remains. Mr. Rucastle then, I presume, took to 
this system of imprisonment? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" And brought Miss Hunter down from London in order to get 
rid of the disagreeable persistence of Mr. Fowler." 

" That was it, sir." 

" But Mr. Fowler being a persevering man, as a good seamen 
should be, blockaded the house, and, having met you, succeeded by 


certain arguments, metallic or otherwise, in convincing you that 
your interests were the same as his." 

*' Mr. Fowler was a very kind-spoken, free-handed gentleman," 
said Mrs. Toller, serenely. 

" And in this way he managed that your good man should have 
no want of drink, and that a ladder should be ready at the moment 
when your master had gone out." 

" You have it, sir, just as it happened." 

*' I am sure we owe you an apology, Mrs. Toller," said Holmes, 
" for you have certainly cleared up everything which puzzled us. 
And here comes the country surgeon and Mrs. Rucastle, so I think, 
Watson, that we had best escort Miss Hunter back to Winchester, 
as it seems to me that our locus standi now is rather a questionable 

And thus was solved the mystery of the sinister house with the 
copper beeches in front of the door. Mr. Rucastle survived, but 
was always a broken man, kept alive solely through the care of his 
devoted wife. They still live with their old servants, who probably 
know so much of Rucastle's past life that he finds it difficult to 
part from them. Mr. Fowler and Miss Rucastle were married, by 
special license, in Southampton the day after their flight, and he is 
now the holder of a Government appointment in the Island of 
Mauritius. As to Miss Violent Hunter, my friend Holmes, rather 
to my disappointment, manifested no further interest in her when 
once she had ceased to be the centre of one of his problems, and 
she is now the head of a private school at Walsall, where I believe 
that she has met with considerable success. 






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